In what’s thought to be the first of it’s kind, a Brazilian Zoo has fitted a prosthetic limb to a flamingo after removing the lower half of its left leg.
The bright pink, six-year-old, Chilean flamingo, first fractured his left leg a month ago at Sorocaba Zoo.
Zoo veterinarian Andre Costa said it was not known how long the leg was injured but that it needed to be amputated.
“To prevent infection from setting in and spreading, which would have killed him, we decided to amputate the leg,” Costa said.
“We needed to go to surgery and at the same time have something he could use as a leg so we came up with the idea of a prosthetic leg.
“If we had simply amputated he would not have survived with only one leg,” Costa said.
The lightweight limb is 18-centimetres (7 inches) long, made of carbon fibre, and has silicone ends where the prosthetic joins the remaining part of the bird’s leg.
The prosthetic for the flamingo was made by local orthopaedics who donated it to the zoo.
According to the zookeepers, the flamingo is still limping but becoming more comfortable with the new leg already mastering the classic stance of standing on one leg with the other tucked up under its body.
“We were really surprised because we thought he would have some serious difficulties,” Costa said.
“But once we put in the implant he stood up, got balanced and started walking, it was a great surprise for us,” he said.
As soon as the flamingo has gotten used to the new limb it will be reintroduced to its group enclosure.
Mr Costa said the bird remains away from the other 28 flamingos at the zoo and will only be gradually reintroduced so as to not cause trouble.
“The other birds might see the prosthesis as an object to be attacked,” he said. “They may shun or attack, and even kill him.”