Koala Triumph

Bear-y Good News

By Riley Kinum March 5, 2021
Koala missing a foot is fitted for a first-of-its-kind prosthetic...and it was a dentist who made it all happen.

Triumph is a five-year-old male koala born without a foot. Veterinarian nurse Marley Christian rescued the joey koala in New South Wales in 2017. She had found him laying next to his dying mother with only three feet and an exposed bone in place of the fourth. Marley Christian still is Triumph’s primary care giver at the Friends of the Koala Centre in Lismore.

After many failed attempts at finding a proper prosthetic for Triumph, a dentist came to the rescue. Dental prosthetist Jon Doulman learned about Triumph and jumped to action. When ABC asked him what sparked his desire to get involved, he stated,​ “I take impressions of mouths, and all dentures are different, and it just dawned on me that I should have a go and see if I can manufacture something for him,” Doulman told ABC.

He created a pink prosthetic, with a velcro strap to help keep it on Triumph’s leg. There is a tread on the bottom to help the koala grip while walking and climbing. As soon as Marley put the boot on him, Triumph did a jump and immediately started running and climbing. Triumph became a whole new koala in front of Marley’s tear filled eyes. Dr. Doulman is working on improving his prototype but right now, it seems to be working exceptionally well for Triumph. A US based 3D printing company is also working on creating a new prosthetic for Triumph, but the pandemic has halted their plans. It may no longer be needed considering how well Triumph is doing at the moment. Dr. Doulman is not expecting to continue this type of work in the future, he just saw a need and thought he could help out. Regardless, one thing is for certain: this is a Triumph for Triumph and koalas born without limbs everywhere.