Alligator gets a prosthetic tail

By Kylee Cruz

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (KPHO/KTVK/CNN) -- You expect to find alligators in states like Florida, Louisiana and Alabama, but there’s an alligator in Arizona with a unique story.

The alligator known as “Mr. Stubbs” came to the Phoenix Herpetological Society without a tail. He likely lost it to the bite of another gator. Losing a tail can be very tricky and dangerous for alligators. Without a tail, Mr. Stubbs could have drowned in his pond.

"When we first got him, if the water was too deep for him to touch the bottom, he would roll over onto his back and could not right himself," Russ Johnson, President of Phoenix Herpetological Society, said.

You hear of humans getting prosthetic legs after suffering from a disease or some type of trauma, but would you ever expect to see a prosthetic tail on an alligator?

Thanks to a team of researchers and doctors, Mr. Stubbs can move like a normal alligator now that he has a prosthetic tail. The tail took more than a year to develop.

Justin Georgi, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of Anatomy in the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University, heard about Mr. Stubbs' journey and wanted to help the reptile.

He worked to determine the appropriate size tail for the alligator. Georgi and others then worked to create a tail that was the right size and weight in order to restore Mr. Stubbs' movement while he walks along with his balance in the water.

"After almost eight years, we need to 'unteach' him the dog paddle, so he can swim like a normal alligator,” Johnson said.

Mr. Stubbs still lives at the Phoenix Herpetological Society.

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