Jul 1, 2016 | By Tess

Chicago’s famous Shedd Aquarium, the largest indoor aquarium in the world, is known for its diversity of aquatic wildlife, with over 8,000 different species and over 32,000 animals. This week, however, the Shedd Aquarium is being recognized for something a little different, as a team of workers have turned to 3D printing technologies to create a foot prosthetic for one of their resident lizards.

Hiss Majesty, a 16-year-old Caiman lizard, had to have his back right foot and ankle amputated last year because of a growing tumor. Since the amputation, Hiss Majesty’s leg stump has healed well, but the lizard has had some mobility problems. To try and remedy this, a team of Shedd’s dedicated employees and aquatic experts have been developing a range of foot prosthetics for the lizard with the help of 3D printing.

So far, the team has created a number of prototypes using a range of different materials. The prosthetics have for the most part been based off of molds from Hiss Majesty’s in tact left foot, but the team has struggled to find the right angle and flexibility for the prosthetic to optimize the lizard’s mobility. For the moment, Hiss Majesty has been fitted with a silicone prosthetic with stump like toes, which has so far proven to be the best fit until a more advanced prosthetic is made.

Earlier this week, the Shedd team took the first steps for creating a more advanced prosthetic, which will be equipped with a ball-and-socket joint to allow the lizard to move as naturally as possible. That is, on Wednesday, Hiss Majesty was brought in to have a cast made of his amputated back leg, a process which required a staff member to hold the lizard over a vat of molding material for about 10 minutes. The cast of the stump will then be used to develop custom fitted ball-and-socket prosthetics with more mobility.

According to the aquarium, the 3D printed prosthetic project is a first for them. “We haven’t done prosthetics before, especially not on lizards,” said Dr. Caryn Poll, a senior staff veterinarian at the Shedd. “In the zoo field, it’s not very common.”

The semi-aquatic lizard, which is featured in the Shedd’s “Amazon Rising” exhibit, has reportedly responded well to the prosthetic prototypes and does not seem to mind trying them on for size. Until the final prosthetic is designed and made, Hiss Majesty will likely keep wearing the silicone boot-like prosthetic to get around.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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