Prosthetics for injured animals are becoming increasingly possible and accessible thanks to 3D printing. Historically, artificial devices for wildlife have been expensive and very time-consuming to produce. 3D printing is changing that calculus by making it easier to design and build better-fitting prosthetics. A team of dedicated caregivers with vision, creativity and persistence is often the common thread that is key to helping injured animals. While 3D printing of animal prosthetics allows for multiple iterations that helps improve the device so that the animal can function more normally, size and materials can limit their use. Today, the use of 3D printers to aid animals is expanding beyond prosthetics, with veterinary anesthesia masks for small primates and other experimental uses being tried. When caregivers at the Weltvogelpark Walsrode bird park in Germany returned to the aviary one morning, they were heartsick to discover that a secretary bird they called Söckchen, or “Little Sock,” had broken her leg inside her enclosure. They guessed that something must have scared her and made her jump, causing a severe break. Secretary birds ( Sagittarius serpentarius ) need their legs. Found in Africa’s savannas, they are large, mostly terrestrial birds; their strong, sturdy legs are […]


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