• This lucky tortoise's life has been transformed with the help of a custom prosthetic shell (YouTube)
Eighty-five percent of Fred's shell was damaged in a bushfire, but now she gets to sport a custom paint job on her plastic carapace.
By
Bianca Soldani

24 May 2016 - 3:11 PM  UPDATED 24 May 2016 - 3:11 PM

A tortoise in Brazil has had her luck turned around after becoming the first recipient of a 3D-printed, hand-painted shell.

Fred, as the reptile is known, was badly burned in a bushfire and rescued by the volunteer vets from Sao Paulo-based group, Animal Avengers. Barely surviving the fire, she had spent 45 days without food and was suffering from pneumonia.

Sadly, almost all of the creature’s shell was lost, prompting a team of six specialists (including four vets, a dental surgeon and a 3D designer) to build a custom prosthetic replacement.

A series of photos of both Fred's shell and that of a healthy tortoise were used in conjunction with computer imaging to reconstruct a hull fitted to the injured animal’s exact measurements.

The design was printed in four pieces out of a cheap, corn-based polymer, and put together like a jigsaw. To better suit the natural environment, an artist then hand-painted the plastic to transform it from the original stark white colour.

Fred is far from the first animal to receive prosthetic help in the shape of 3D-printed objects. That very same group recently fitted a toucan with a new beak, and have worked with a parrot and a goose in similar procedures.

Earlier this year a dog in Mexico was fitted with a 3D-printed prosthetic leg at a Mexico City veterinary hospital after it lost it in a lawnmower accident.

It took six months to create an original prototype and the dog, named Romina, has been going through rehabilitation to get used to using it.

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