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Penguin With Foot Condition Has Shoes Custom Orthopedic Shoes

Lucas the penguin. Image from BBC.

A penguin with a foot condition has had a pair of orthopedic shoes custom-made for him to help correct a degenerative foot condition he has.

Lucas, is a 4 year-old African penguin who resides in the San Diego Zoo. He was diagnosed with a condition called bumblefoot, which is a bacterial infection common in birds and rodents. The condition causes inflammation in the footpad, and can be fatal if left untreated.

Luckily for Lucas the pair of shoes he had made will prevent sores occurring on his feet. The orthopedic shoes are made from a combination of rubber and neoprene, and are purposefully black, so that they match the colour of his feet as much as possible. The shoes were made by non-profit Thera-Paw, who design custom products for animals with special needs.

“The boots are cushioned and Velcroed in place, so they will help Lucas to fully participate in the colony and showcase behaviors that are more typical for a penguin—such as climbing the rocks, swimming, nesting and finding a suitable mate,” says senior veterinarian Dr. Beth Bicknese.

Lucas developed the condition after an infection of the spine made his leg muscles weakened. He subsequently rested on his ankles to help him stand more straight, which led to sores on his legs and feet.

However, since having his new shoes fitted, Lucas is walking like a normal penguin. He has also managed to find love in the form of his new girlfriend.

“I’ve known Lucas for a long time, so having the ability to provide him with a chance to live a normal life brings a smile to my face,” Bicknese says.

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