Houston Zoo Outfits Komodo Dragon With Epic Orthosis

posted: 04/16/15
by: Danny Clemens
Komodo dragon with orthosis
Baylor College of Medicine and Houston Zoo

Veterinarians at the Houston Zoo are treating a Komodo dragon's orthopedic issues with an orthosis that makes the dragon look more hardcore than ever.

Working in conjunction with experts from the Baylor College of Medicine, zoo officials designed the orthosis to help Smaug, the 16-year-old Komodo dragon, walk correctly after he developed the undetermined orthopedic issue.

"About a year ago, we noticed that Smaug wasn't using his right, front foot normally and that occasionally he was flipping it underneath and walking on the top of his toes," said Houston Zoo associate veterinarian Dr. Lauren Howard.

Komodo dragon with orthosis
Baylor College of Medicine and Houston Zoo

Constructed out of urethane laminate, the orthosis has a tacky surface that sticks to Smaug's scales while still being easily removable. It gives Smaug a full range of motion at his wrist and causes his front foot to fall normally on the ground when he walks.

"It's a bit different. You don't have human tissue, you have scales, different muscle functions and joints that all move in different ways. All of those things added to the challenge, but it was a great learning experience and a lot of fun," remarked Baylor's Jared Howell.

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