turtles

Watch a tiny turtle get a 3D-printed mask

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Today is your lucky day because, in my mind, it’s Terrapin Friday! In today’s episode we present Patches, a black-breasted leaf turtle who lives at the Knoxville Zoo. This 30-year-old turtle was living high on the hog for a number of years until she developed a hole near her nostril, probably caused during mating (“Male turtles are very rambunctious when they are trying to woo a female,” said Michael Ogle, the zoo’s herpetology curator.)

They cleaned out the hole and tried to give the turtle antibiotics but it kept getting bigger. Finally, they performed a detailed CT scan and then 3D printed a little face mask for Patches so that her nose hole wouldn’t get any bigger.

A team at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Andrew Cushing and Dr. Kyle Snowdon, 3D printed a bio-compatible mask using a Formlabs printer. The current mask is held onto her face using a screw and some resin and there is a small UT logo embossed on the front so she can show local pride.

“She’s doing great,” Ogle said. “She looks a little odd, but she’s still a good-looking young lady.”

Zoo Knoxville turtle fitted with prosthetic mask from Zoo Knoxville on Vimeo.