Alligator 'Mr. Stubbs' Gets New Prosthetic Tail

Created: 2013-03-14 15:56 EST

Category: Life

After Mr. Stubbs' tail was bitten off eight years ago, the 11-year-old alligator learned to survive. But it wasn't easy.

Rescued by the Phoenix Herpetological Society, scientists and researchers assembled a team to take on the challenge of fitting Mr. Stubbs with a prosthetic tail.

Taking a mold of another alligator tail and matching it with Mr. Stubbs' socket, the team created one.

Dr. Marc Jacofsky is the vice president of research and design at The CORE Institute, one of the collaborators on the team.

[Dr. Marc Jacofsky, The CORE Institute Vice President of R&D]:
"So you can see it has all the scales and features that you would expect on a normal tail, and then it's custom fit to Mr. Stubbs' rear, and we've gone ahead and developed a strapping system to secure it to him."

The prosthetic seemed to work. Mr. Stubbs got used to it pretty fast.

[Dr. Marc Jacofsky, The CORE Institute Vice President of R&D]:
"We were quite surprised, actually, by one, how quickly he adapted to that additional mass and two, the fact that he didn't turn around and try to bite something that was chasing him."

The alligator, who was expected to live only 20 years before the prosthetic, can now live up to 80 years with the new tail.

[Dr. Marc Jacofsky, The CORE Institute Vice President of R&D]:
"Immediately, when we put him in the water, he really worked out the buoyancy pretty well in the shallow water. He was able to control his yaw and pitch. Now we're working with the deeper water in the pool in front of us and try to train him on proper alligator swimming."

The tail reportedly took about three months to make and cost $6,000.