A penguin in New Zealand that had its leg amputated after it got stuck in a fishing line has received a custom-made 3D printed foot.
Bagpipes the Little Blue penguin lost his left leg in 2007 and since then has hopped and wriggled his way around his new home at the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch.
On Wednesday Bagpipes took his first tentative steps using his new limb.
His digital foot will help him swim, stand and waddle like a penguin should.
Officials say that Bagpipes’s new prosthetic foot is a first for New Zealand, using the latest 3D technology.
Doctors 3D-print ‘living’ body parts
After nine years of hobbling, Bagpipes is now able to stand tall and enjoy having his body weight distributed evenly.
Penguin keeper Mal Hackett told Stuff.co.nz that Bagpipes had spent almost 10 years of his life using different kinds of foam beer bottle holders cut to size and wrapped around his stump to give him some support.
“When he got out of the pool he was using parts of his body that he shouldn’t, like his beak and flippers, so hopefully this prosthetic will help with that,” he said.
The biggest difficulty was getting Bagpipes to stand still to have his good foot scanned and his new foot fitted. Initially he fell flat on his beak a few times before he got used to his new limb.
It was made by University of Canterbury senior lecturer Don Clucas who came up with a computer design, refined the model and printed the prosthetic.
“The hardest part was scanning his foot because he is quite wriggly,” he said. “The fitting has gone better than expected.”
“We still need to make a few adjustments like making it easier to clip on the prosthetic and keep it in place on his legs.”
The prosthetic is made from plastic but the final fitting will include a rubber material to help Bagpipes with his grip.