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How A Prosthetic Helped ‘Mr. Stubbs’ The Alligator Get Back In The Water

When an alligator swims, he uses his tail to propel himself through the water. He uses his tail to dive and catch his prey, and he uses it to walk around. Since Mr. Stubbs didn’t have a tail, his chances for survival were grim. Lucky for him, he had some smart people who had big ideas on how to help him.

Mr. Stubbs’ History

It was a warm morning in Arizona when a tractor-trailer filled with smuggled animals was pulled over on the highway. Among the 33 alligators in the back was Mr. Stubbs. When his rescuers pulled him from the truck, they noticed the poor guy’s entire tail was missing.

Alligator Alliance

Traveling in such a tight space with so many other animals caused the alligators to fight, and a much larger alligator severed Mr. Stubbs’s tail from his body. He was lucky to be alive!

3D Printing Improves Lives

When the Phoenix Herpetological Society brought Mr. Stubbs in for treatment, they tried to fit him with several tails, but none of them took. Matching an alligator with a tail is tough because it’s like another limb to them, and each alligator uniquely uses their tails. So, it’s not as if you can slap any old tail on an alligator and make it work.

My Good Planet

Justin Georgi, an associate professor of anatomy at Midwestern University in Glendale, Arizona, caught word of Mr. Stubbs’ dilemma. He knew he could help! So, he challenged one of his students to design and print a personalized tail using a 3-d printer.

A Bright Reptilian Future

First, they took a cast of the alligator’s stub and then calculated his movements, so the tail fit like a glove. When it was finished, they strapped it onto Mr. Stubbs, and it was perfect.


He could swim! And he could do everything all the other alligators could do. Because of the love and care for Mr. Stubbs, he can live a full life and can live the life he was meant to live. An alligator’s life.

If you want to see more of Mr. Stubbs and his amazing transformation, check out the videos below.

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