Weird World: Rare ‘birdie’ back on par with prosthetic leg after freak golfing accident

By Pippa Field

A rare bird is back on par with the rest after being fitted with a prosthetic leg in Canada following a freak golfing accident.

The unfortunate Sandhill crane’s life was blown off course last month when its right leg was shattered by a stray ball at Richmond’s Country Meadows Gold Course.

Discovered hopping around on one leg, the four-foot tall animal was taken to the Whatcom Road Veterinary Hospital where the decision to amputate was taken.

Hospital staff determined the unusually docile bird was adaptable enough to ‘make the cut’ and survive, and gave it a temporary wooden splint.

Vet Dr Ken Macquisten – who then made a second prototype leg from salvaged wire to allow the bird’s stump to heal – described the unusual developments.

“It’s particularly interesting to me because it’s a traumatic injury, and we have the potential to put the crane back into the wild with an artificial leg,” he told the Vancouver Sun.

“I went into my shop at home and looked around to see what I had and made a bit of a basket for above the amputation site that extends down to a point below the bird.

“As soon as we put him back on his feet, he gave his feathers a shake and seems to be back to his old self.”

The bird has since been moved to Elizabeth’s Wildlife Centre in Abbotsford where it is hoped a more prosthetic limb can be attached once the stump in healed.

Unusual as it is however, it is far from the first case of a plucky animal getting a new lease of life thanks to an artificial limb.

Other notable examples include Molly, a pony who received an artificial right limb after being attacked by a pitbull terrier in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Travelling across western Japan and vets intervened to save a turtle’s life by inventing artificial front flippers to help it swim.

The 25-year-old female had suffered injuries following a shark attack in mid-2008, but thanks to a series of developments – including her 27th pair in February – the turtle is still going strong.

But one of the largest prosthesis ever to be attached to an animal must go to Montala the elephant in Thailand in 2009.

Having lost her foot and most of her left leg after walking over a landmine ten years previous, the anesthetic used while attaching her new lower leg was enough to knock out 70 people.

You can see pictures of the crane and its new artifical limb here.

Picture courtesy of Hawk684, with thanks.

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