Environment

The Professor Fitting a Tiger With a Prosthetic Paw

Professor Peter Giannoudis from the University of Leeds is helping Indian experts carry out a world-first operation on an injured seven-year-old tiger.

16.10.2019 | by Christy Romer
Photo by Chandler Cruttenden on Unsplash
Photo by Chandler Cruttenden on Unsplash

In recent years, we’ve seen astronomic advances in prosthetic technology. They’ve become more exciting for kids, cheaper and lighter for people living in poorer economies and available for dogs and household pets. But, so far, we haven’t yet seen prosthetic limbs being transplanted onto a tiger.

Until now.

Professor Peter Giannoudis, an expert in surgical trauma, fractures and bone regeneration at the UK’s University of Leeds, is guiding a team of Indian surgeons as they attach a prosthetic paw onto a tiger injured by a poacher’s trap.

The Telegraph reports that Sahebrao, the tiger in question, was rescued from the Chandrapur district in 2012. After developing gangrene, his paw had to be amputated. The tiger has since been living in captivity at the wildlife rescue centre in Nagpur’s Gorewada Zoo.

Things changed for Sahebrao in 2016 when he was adopted by orthopaedic surgeon Sushrut Babhulkar. The surgeon has spent the past three years investigating the possibility of attaching an artificial limb — an international journey that led him to team up with Giannoudis and the University of Leeds.

 

Dog with prosthetic

Dog with a prosthetic limb. Credit: Animalorthocare

 

“Now we will be able to fix the prosthetic limb within 3-4 weeks… the limb will be manufactured in Nagpur. We have taken all the necessary measurements,” Babhulkar told The Indian Express, a Delhi-based daily newspaper, as quoted in the Telegraph.

“I wish to see him walk normally, like a human being getting a prosthetic leg, for the rest of his life,” he said.

According to the Indian government, tiger numbers are on the rise after long-term decline, although there is some debate about to what extent the numbers can be trusted.

The tiger will receive its artificial paw in the first-ever operation of its type within a month.

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