No one likes to see a struggling animal, whether it’s one who’s been abused, abandoned, or injured in any way. And it’s no different for this sweet penguin who captured the hearts of a group of middle school students.
Purps, a 23-year-old African penguin, injured her left leg in 2011 at the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut by tearing a flexor tendon, a pain similar to that which humans suffer from when the Achilles tendon is torn. Since then, her ability to walk has been greatly impacted.
Though the veterinary staff was able to make a temporary fix by making a boot for her foot by hand, it needed to be constantly replaced and Purps was still left immobilized. So when Kelly Matis, the vice president of communications and conservation at the aquarium, heard the news that a local middle school acquired a 3D printer, she sprung into action.
After visiting Purps at the aquarium, the students at Mystic Middle School immediately knew they wanted to help.
With the help of ACT, the company who provided the school with the printer, the group brainstormed a more effective and efficient design to help the little penguin walk normally again. They also used Geomagic Sculpt, a computer software program, to add traction to the new boot.
“The students truly amazed us in how their creative thinking, imagination and intuitiveness led this process,” said ACT Director of Additive Manufacturing and Applications Engineer Nick Gondek.
Though it took months to finish, Purps was finally able to try it on and “took off across the exam room, looking very comfortable in her new boot and walking much more like a normal penguin should walk,” according to Dr. Jen Flower, the chief clinical veterinarian at the aquarium.
Check out the video below to see the whole story and watch Purps shake her little booty to the groove of happiness!