Woman Designs Tiny Shoes to Help Disabled Birds Walk

by Rebecca on June 12, 2012

in Animal Stories

Written by Sue Randall of Johannesburg, South  Africa

Read full story at:  http://www.care2.com/causes/woman-designs-tiny-shoes-to-help-disabled-birds-walk.html#ixzz1xOvmNUuw

Chubby was a really happy and friendly little bird. She did not seem to be in  any pain from her legs. We believed that she wanted to live and that she had  come into our lives for a reason, but she would never be able to walk properly,  or to grip a branch. I knew she needed shoes or prostheses. The Grey Lourie  (also known as the Grey Go-away Bird) is quite a large bird, and fitting shoes  to Chubby’s legs would be possible in a way that it would not be with a smaller  species.

Johann and I were not living in a good situation. We did not own the land we  lived on and we would have to borrow the money to build an aviary, but my main  concern—which soon became an obsession—was making shoes for Chubby. If I could  not find a way to do that, then euthanasia would indeed be the only option. I  tried making shoes out of denim, neoprene, rubber. Nothing worked. I could not  attach the shoes firmly enough that they did not fall off or twist around the  legs. We seemed to be losing the battle.

We Couldn’t Give Up on Her

Yet Chubby was playful and she was learning to fly. She seemed blissfully  unaware that her feet did not work and that we might not be able to save her  life. I thought of all the people in the world who have disabilities in every  imaginable body part, all the prostheses and adaptations that have ever been  designed for humans. This was just a little bird! Her needs were so much  simpler. And yet I could not find the way forward.

My sister had broken a finger a few months earlier and suddenly she had an  idea. She suggested that I contact her hand therapist and ask for some offcuts  of finger-splinting material. I called her therapist and she said she would be  delighted to help. The next day Johann collected the splinting material from her  rooms in the city. As soon as he got home, we started experimenting. Within an  hour, we had made Chubby’s first pair of shoes! For the first time ever she was  able to walk, run, and balance without difficulty. She became even more playful  and happy, and trundled around in her little shoes as if they had always been  part of her.

A friend donated some money to help us build an aviary, and Johann and a  neighbor put it together. It had to be specially adapted because of Chubby’s  disability. She would never have feet that gripped, so we built a network of  little ladder ramps and put up flat planks instead of branches. Now Chubby was  able to fly, feed, bathe, preen, run around and sun herself independently.

Scruffy running.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/woman-designs-tiny-shoes-to-help-disabled-birds-walk.html#ixzz1xOvyJlTo


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