Penguin That Was Walking on His Ankles Gets Help

Lucas at San Diego Zoo is outfitted with orthopedic footwear
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 30, 2022 3:30 PM CDT
Penguin Gets Special Help for His Bumblefoot
In this undated photo provided by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, wildlife care specialists Debbie Dention, left, and Lara Jones watch as a penguin named Lucas tests custom orthopedic footwear at the San Diego Zoo.   (Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance via AP)

A member of the San Diego Zoo's African penguin colony has been fitted with orthopedic footwear to help it deal with a degenerative foot condition. The 4-year-old penguin named Lucas has lesions on his feet due to a chronic condition known as bumblefoot, which covers a range of avian foot problems, the San Diego Wildlife Alliance said Monday in a press release. The penguin's problems began more than three years ago. CBS 8 reports a spinal infection caused his leg muscles to weaken, which altered his ability to stand upright. As such, he ended up resting on parts of his ankles that shouldn't have contact with the floor.

The treatments provided didn't heal his bumblefoot condition; if it persisted, it could lead to sepsis and death by infection. The zoo's wildlife care specialists turned to an organization called Thera-Paw, which creates rehabilitative and assistive products for animals with special needs. Thera-Paw created custom padded boots made of neoprene and rubber to protect his current sores and prevent new pressure sores from developing when Lucas stands and walks. A sweet coda: CNN reports that Lucas isn't just able to keep up with the other penguins now; he has also landed himself a girlfriend. The AP notes that African penguins have suffered a massive population decline and are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

(More penguins stories.)

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