Animal experts in Sydney, Australia, tried for years to find a mobility solution for a rescued 5-year-old koala named Triumph.
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Triumph was found when he was just a baby after his mother was killed in the wild. At first, his rescuers assumed that his missing hind foot was the result of an accident, but veterinary tests revealed it was actually caused a birth defect.
The little guy was taken in by veterinarian nurse Marley Christian back in 2017. Ever since then, Marley has cared for Triumph at the Friends of the Koala center in Lismore, which is south of Brisbane. She’s utterly devoted to her koala friend, and Triumph is equally fond of her.
According to his Instagram page, Triumph “bites everyone else” aside from Marley and seeks her out the moment he hears her voice, no matter how far away she is.
The only problem that Marley and the rest of the team at Friends of the Koala couldn’t solve was his missing foot, which hindered his ability to climb, jump, and do other typical koala things. They had a company in the U.S. attempt to build him a prosthesis, but after several failed attempts, they gave up. Luckily, a local dental prosthetist heard about Triumph!
Jon Doulman specializes in making false teeth and prosthetic jaws, but he had a hunch that creating a koala foot wouldn’t be that different. So he got to work and designed a pink paw with a velcro strap to keep it attached to Triumph’s leg. There’s even tread on the bottom to give him grip and stability.
The second Marley slipped it on him, Triumph began to use it seamlessly!
“Once I put the little boot on him and he did this little jump, then he was running around and climbing. I actually cried,” Marley said. “It’s the best thing that ever happened, I would do absolutely anything for this boy.”
The prosthesis’ success is all thanks to Jon’s creative problem-solving.
“It was certainly different,” he explained. “It required a bit of lateral thinking in so far as coming up with the design, but it was a great feeling to be able to help him.”
Triumph is already getting around better thanks to his new foot, and Jon plans to keep working on the design until he gets it just right. Sometimes the solution to our problems comes from the most unlikely source! We’re so glad Jon was able to use his skills to change the life of this rescue animal!
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