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Tortoise Gets Wheel To Replace Amputated Front Leg

SPOKANE, Washington ~ (AP) ~ A 12-year-old tortoise that recently had its left front leg amputated has found his stride again thanks to a swiveling wheel attached to its shell.

The 23-pound African spur-thighed tortoise, named Gamera after the flying turtle in Japanese monster movies, was brought to Washington State University's veterinary hospital in April by its owner. Gamera was suffering from a severe injury from an unknown cause; the injury was so life-threatening doctors amputated it at the shoulder. After healing, creative veterinarians attached a swiveling, caster wheel to the bottom of Gamera's shell using epoxy adhesive.

Charlie Powell, spokesman for WSU hospital in Pullman, Washington, said, ""I don't know whether he'd pass the hare, but he moves around very well." Gamera is particularly good at moving toward food and has gained three pounds since the wheel was attached. Powell also said the wheel allows Gamera to move on well on both flat and lumpy surfaces, and should last for several years before it has to be replaced. African spur-thighed tortoises are part of the larger group of sulcata tortoises that are popular as exotic pets in the United States. The largest sulcata tortoise on record topped 232 pounds, and the oldest in captivity lived to be 56 years old.

Photo credit: Charlie Powell/WSU

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