Arizona alligator learns to swim with new prosthetic tail

Arizona alligator learns to swim with new prosthetic tail

Posted: Updated:
Mr. Stubbs with prosthetic tail Mr. Stubbs with prosthetic tail
Mr. Stubbs without tail Mr. Stubbs without tail
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PHOENIX -

An alligator in Arizona is learning to swim again after receiving a prosthetic tail.

"Mr. Stubbs" was missing his tail before he was rescued by Phoenix Herpetological Society. They say he probably lost it after another alligator bit it off.

Without a tail, Mr. Stubbs could only dog paddle and was in danger of drowning in his pond.

After hearing about Mr. Stubbs, Dr. Marc Jacofsky and his research associate Sarah Jarvis decided to try creating a prosthetic tail for him.

Researchers from The CORE Institute and Midwestern University worked with alligator specimens to work out the appropriate size of tail for Mr. Stubbs.

The prosthesis is covered in Dragon Skin, a lightweight, flexible silicone material used for special effects and animatronics in movies, in addition to prosthetics.

A harness system was created to keep the tail on Mr. Stubbs' body without creating pressure points, discomfort or eventual skin breakdown.

The tale has already improved the alligator's movement, but Mr. Stubbs is still adjusting to swimming with the tail.

"After almost eight years, we need to 'unteach' him the dog paddle, so he can swim like a normal alligator," said Russ Johnson, spokesperson for PHS.

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