Alligator gets prosthetic tail
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (WHDH) -- In Arizona, an alligator named "Mr. Stubbs" is going to need a new name.
He had been missing his tail but he is getting a new one to help him swim.
"He's not supposed to be using his front feet at all but that's what he had to do when he was a little guy,” said Russ Johnson of the Phoenix Herpetological Society.
A first look at history in the making - an alligator learning to use his prosthetic tail.
Named Mr. Stubbs, he was confiscated in Arizona.
Just simply owning a gator in the state is illegal.
Stubbs has lived most of his life tailless.
He learned to swim by doggie paddling at the phoenix herpetological society.
Then science stepped in with an idea - build him a tail.
"And so it's just a process of figuring out how to make a mold and getting the mold and then playing with the material. I made some little models and stuff and figured out that it's going to be pretty good for the full tail,” said the creator.
Scott Craven of the Arizona Republic knows that's modesty simplifying it.
Craven was there witnessing Mr. Stubbs' historical swim.
"Everybody there has no idea that anybody else has ever done this. And it actually took the molding of a tail from an alligator cadaver of roughly the same size as Mr. Stubbs. Once they took the mold of that tail they then dissected the tail to determine its mass, center of gravity. So science went into this as well. It wasn't as if they just poured rubber, stuck a tail on this guy, and let him swim,” said Craven.
The orange floatie is an aid for Mr. Stubbs until he gets used to his new tail.
They say it could take another six months before he fully adjusts.
"So if we, if we get him just to relax a little bit to where he's confident in it, because memory is there. When he was a baby and instinctively it's there. It's just, he's been without it for so long that he has to adjust to this,” said Johnson.
The alligator is 11-years old, 7-feet-long. He will be the first alligator to ever receive an artificial tail.