This Koala Has a Prosthetic Foot Made by a Kind Dentist

Triumph runs and climbs easily on his new prosthetic foot.

Mar 13, 2021

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This Koala Has a Prosthetic Foot Made by a Kind Dentist | Triumph runs and climbs easily on his new prosthetic foot.

Triumph, a nearly five-year-old Koala now has a new lease on life thanks to a dentist in Lismore, Australia. He can now run properly and climb trees with a new prosthetic foot.

The koala was born with one foot missing and was found next to his dying mother near Lismore in New South Wales, according to ABC News. This birth defect left him with just a protruding bone or stump in place of a foot. His rescuer was veterinarian nurse Marley Christian from Friends of the Koala who has taken care of Triumph since he was a joey.

The birth defect caused him pain so Christian started dressing the koala’s stump with socks or booties and it seemed to reduce the sensitivity in the leg but it wasn’t enough. Christian searched all over the globe for a prosthetic limb maker who could fashion a device for a koala.

A company in America that specializes in pet prosthetics tried to make one but it was unable to fashion a foot that was comfortable and stayed attached. “We were told it had not been done and it could not be done," Christian told ABC News.

As unlikely as it sounds, Christian found a solution right in her neighborhood. When dental prosthetist Jon Doulman heard about Triumph, he volunteered to find a way to make an artificial paw for the ailing marsupial according to Reuters.

Doulman made a pink prosthetic with a Velcro strap to keep it on Triumph’s leg and used rubber tread on the bottom to help the koala walk and climb. “It was certainly different,” Doulman told Reuters. “It required a bit of lateral thinking in so far as coming up with the design ... but it was a great feeling to be able to help him.” Doulman is now working on improving his design to give the spunky koala more mobility and comfort.

Now, the happy koala can run faster and climb trees. “Once I put the little boot on him and he did this little jump, then he was running around and climbing, I actually cried,” Christian said. “Triumph became a whole new koala once the prosthesis was attached.”

The prosthetic food also helped to stop a curvature of the spine that was occurring  due to the unnatural way he walked before, she told ABC News, and it alleviated the pain from the stump.

Triumph will stay in captivity at the Friends of the Koala center under Christian’s care because his birth defect will not allow him to be released into the wild. But he is happy there according to Christian. “He treats me like a female koala … he bites me, bellows, and wees on me, but that's part and parcel of the whole thing,” she said.

Life is good for this lucky koala. He’s climbing trees, munching on eucalyptus leaves, and running around on four paws thanks to people who believed in doing something that “could not be done.”

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Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.