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3D Printed Limbs Help Rescued Wild Animals & Pets

Carrie Arnold - National Geographic
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August 20, 2016
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The goose's first surgery, in which she was fitted with a prosthetic beak, went well (Animal Avengers 3D)

Paolo Miamoto may be known for fixing human teeth, but he is perhaps most proud of giving Vitória the goose her smile back.

When the greylag goose was dropped off at a animal rescue center near São Paulo, Brazil, in December 2015, she was missing most of her bill. Volunteers at Friends of the Sea fed her baby food, but the process was time-consuming and left the bird completely dependent on her human caregivers.

So the rescue center contacted Miamoto, a local dentist who specializes in 3-D facial and dental reconstructions, to make Vitória a prosthetic beak made from a 3-D printer.

Miamoto is part of a group called Animal Avengers, which consists of an all-volunteer crew of veterinarians, 3-D computer modeling experts, and Miamoto, who create custom prosthetics for wild and domestic animals using 3-D printers.

It sounds expensive and high-tech, but the process is actually substantially cheaper than building each prosthetic by hand, he adds. All the Avengers need are cell phone photos, open-source computer software, and a 3-D printer.

And they make sure their creations fit with the animal's behavior and habitat.

“If you give a toucan a white beak, it might be rejected by other toucans. So it needs to be orange,” he says.

More and more, veterinarians worldwide are turning to 3-D printing as a way to make customizable prosthetics or orthotics for pets and wild animals.

Check out a few more animals who, like Vitória, are back on their feet with their own printed prosthetics at National Geographic

  Check out Mexi-Can Vet Project

  Check out Friends of Puerto Vallarta Animals

  Check out Jaltemba Bay Animal Rescue (JBAR)


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