More Mobility for Shedd Lizard, Thanks to 3-D Printer

Hiss Majesty, a 16-year-old Caiman lizard at the Shedd Aquarium, was fitted for a new prosthetic limb on Wednesday.

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Last year, the lizard developed a cancerous tumor on his right foot and ankle, which required amputation.

The Shedd has since been experimenting with different prosthetic legs of varying shapes and materials to give Hiss Majesty more mobility and a better fit, now that post-surgery swelling has gone down.

A 3-D printer has been used to make the devices.

During Wednesday’s fitting, animal care staff took a new molding of Hiss Majesty’s leg, including the stump area from his amputation. The mold will be used to create a prosthetic leg that will include some type of ball-and-socket joint in an effort to mimic the natural movement of the lizard’s foot.

The project is unchartered territory for the aquarium.

"We haven't done prosthetics before, especially not on lizards," said Dr. Caryn Poll, senior staff veterinarian at the Shedd. "In the zoo field, it's not very common."

Animal care staff said Hiss Majesty wears a prosthesis intermittently as they try out different designs. He doesn’t seem to mind wearing the device, they said.

Hiss Majesty can be seen in the aquarium’s “Amazon Rising” exhibit. 

Follow Evan Garcia on Twitter: @EvanRGarcia

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