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Technology has opened our eyes to possibilities one could have never imagined to become a reality.  And while there is plenty of discussion on how scientific advancements have made our world a lazier, more dependent place, they have also achieved so much worth celebrating, like technology being used to help animals with missing limbs become mobile again.

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Mosha is an Asian elephant who lost her right foreleg from a landmine explosion, and she’s the world’s first recipient of an elephant prosthesis.

Orthopedic surgeon Therdchai Jivacate designs prosthetic legs for humans and other animals through the Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation in Thailand, and had the pleasure of taking on the challenge of making a prosthetic leg for Mosha.

“When I saw Mosha, I noticed that she had to keep raising her trunk into the air in order to walk properly,” Jivacate said.

Though Jivacate ran into numerous design and biomechanics problems along the way, he was was able to make a 15-kilogram (33-pound) leg, made of thermoplastic, steel, and elastomer.

“We knew that she wouldn’t use the prosthetic leg if it caused her pain,” explained Jivacate. “At first, she was curious about what was attached to her stump and tried to remove the prosthetic with her trunk, but we’d secured it tightly.”

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Over the past six years, Mosha’s increasing weight and size has put stress on the prosthetic leg, causing her to go through a total of 9 forelegs in the past six years.

“Mosha grows fast,” Jivacate laughed. “In the first year, she went through three prosthetic legs.”

Jivacate says much of his designs are simply a result of trial and error, and are not found in medical textbooks. He says he is still trying to find the perfect prosthetic with materials that are more durable and resistant to wear.

“Animals don’t ask that we make legs for them, but we wanted to give Mosha one,” said Jivacate. “I think she knows that I make her prosthetic legs as each time I come to the elephant hospital she makes a little salute by raising her trunk in the air.”


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