Amputee tortoise regains mobility with prosthetic wheel

Amputee tortoise regains mobility with prosthetic wheel
PULLMAN, Wash. -- A tortoise that lost a leg to a life-threatening injury has regained his full mobility, thanks to the veterinarians at Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

The 12-year-old African spur-thighed tortoise named Gamera now has a swiveling wheel attached to his shell in place of his amputated left front leg.

The university first began caring for the tortoise in April after Gamera suffered a severe thermal injury and tissue damage. Because the injury was life-threatening, veterinarians decided to amputate his leg at the shoulder.

Vets then attached a swiveling ball-type caster to Gamera's shell with an epoxy adhesive in place of his missing leg.

Gamera took quickly to his new prosthetic leg, and is able to move about on most surfaces, veterinarians said.

During the adjustment period, vets used a feeding tube to ensure Gamera received sufficient nutrition, and they say the strategy appears to have worked. Gamera, who weighed 20 pounds at admission, is now three pounds heavier.

Experts at WSU said the African spur-thighed tortoise is a native of Northern Africa, and belongs to a larger group known as the sulcata tortoises. These tortoises have been known to live as long as 56 years and weigh as much as 232 pounds.

Gamera is named after a fictional and giant flying turtle from a series of Japanese giant monster films made in 1965 to rival "Godzilla," WSU said.