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Tortoise Gets Around With a Wheel for a Leg

Gamera the Turtle
Gamera the tortoise has been a bionic animal since a surgery in April removed his left front leg. (Image credit: Henry Moore, Jr. BCU/WSU)

A tortoise that had to have its leg amputated is now getting around with the help of an unusual prosthetic: A swiveling caster wheel much like those seen on office chairs.

Gamera, a 12-year-old African spur-thighed tortoise, was relinquished by its owner to Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in April after the 20 pound (9 kilogram) pet severely burned its left front leg. The injury was so life-threatening that veterinarians decided to amputate Gamera's leg at the shoulder.

To help Gamera get around on three legs, the veterinarians attached the wheel to his shell with epoxy. According to Washington State University, the tortoise took to the freewheeling lifestyle with little encouragement: Since admission, Gamera is getting around well and has gained more than 3 pounds (1.4 kg).

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Stephanie Pappas
Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science. She covers the world of human and animal behavior, as well as paleontology and other science topics. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has ducked under a glacier in Switzerland and poked hot lava with a stick in Hawaii. Stephanie hails from East Tennessee, the global center for salamander diversity. Follow Stephanie on Google+.