LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (April 19, 2012) - Snell Prosthetic & Orthotic Laboratory treated its largest patient ever when it fitted Jewell the elephant with a custom orthotic shoe designed to help the elephant walk steady.
Jewell, a 60-year-old Asian elephant living at the Little Rock Zoo since spring of last year, was having trouble walking on her front right leg. As an elephant of advanced age, Jewell's joints are not as limber as they once were making it more difficult for the 9,000 pound pachyderm to evenly distribute her weight on all four legs.
Keepers started to observe Jewell walking abnormally and wondered if there was a way to create a device for the animal that would help her to better distribute her weight on her legs. Seeing various prototypes from other zoos around the country, Zoo staff contacted Snell to see if they might be able to create a custom shoe for Jewell that would help the elephant walk.
Snell, a leader in crafting custom prosthetics and orthotics since 1911, welcomed the challenge of fitting Jewell with a custom orthotic shoe. Snell's team took measurements of Jewell's feet and designed a prototype for the Zoo to try on Jewell's front right foot. After a few additional modifications were made, the shoe was completed and delivered to the Zoo.
Zoo staff work with Jewell on wearing the orthotic during the day and have noticed a change for the better in the way she walks.
"The orthotic shoe provided by Snell has stabilized Jewell's front foot and helped her to distribute her weight evenly. Keeper staff have noticed Jewell walking more and any wear on her foot that was present before is disappearing," said Large Hoof Stock Curator Joe Darcangelo.
Snell and Zoo staff will continue to monitor Jewell's progress.
The Little Rock Zoo is accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA). Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things. With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For more information, visit www.aza.org.