Seagull gets prosthetic feet from 3-D printer

Seagull gets prosthetic feet from 3-D printer
Updated: Jul. 2, 2018 at 9:21 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A seagull named Gumpy is getting a new set of prosthetic feet.

Shane Boyland, the chief veterinarian at the South Carolina Aquarium, amputated the bird's feet after its legs were found wrapped in twine.

Gumpy's future was grim until Boylan stepped in.

"He had two dead feet barely attached, and they brought him in to be euthanized," Boylan said. " I looked at the feet and realized I had to amputate them but the bird had a lot of fight left in him."

That's when Boylan decided Gumpy would be a good candidate for prosthetic legs.

"Ring-billed gulls are the kind of bird you see at the beach," Boylan said. "They eat out your hand, they are used to dealing with people. So I figured if anybody had a chance to survive it would be Gumpy."

Gumpy has been living at Boylan's home.

"He shares the dog bowl with two Boston Terriers. He just pushes them out the way and he eats out of the bowl," Boyland said

People with the Department of Teaching, Learning and Technology at the College of Charleston were able to assist in the efforts by creating the 3D printed feet.

"The 3D printer uses plastic. The plastic is called PLA or polylatic acid plastic," said Jack Wolfe, an instructional technologist at CofC. "It essentially just deposits many many hundreds of layers onto this print bed. So it's printing like a normal printer would, but it's depositing plastic layer by layer, and that's how it builds up this 3D print."

The bird will have to adjust to having feet again.

When he becomes comfortable, Gumpy will be used for educational purposes.

"So kids can see if they've got amputations or if they've got prosthesis that... birds get the same thing and wildlife gets the same thing that people do," Boyan said. " If this animal can overcome a catastrophic injury really caused by humans, so can everybody else."

Gumpy will have another fitting in the future as designers try to find the right size and shape.

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