Turtle Who Lost Shell In Forest Fire, Receives First Ever 3-D Printed Prosthetic [video]

Updated May 15, 2017

Turtles have a great setup. They have a shell attached to their body to hide in any time they please. If a predator is bothering them, they can tuck away in their shell and go incognito for as long as they want. Or if they want to blend in with their territory, then they huddle inside that shell and fake like they are a rock. While some may say that they are slow movers, turtles may actually be one step ahead when it comes to seeking out alone time, something that we all cherish.

We all know that modern technology is improving life everywhere and making recoveries and injuries a lot easier, but who knew that it could work toward benefiting tortoises too. Freddie the tortoise was like you average tortoise…minding his own business and hiding out whenever he pleased. Until Freddie’s shell got severely burned in a wildfire in the Amazon rainforest. After surviving the fire, Freddie lost 85% of his shell, endured two bouts of pneumonia and managed to live without food for 45 days. Thanks to technology, Freddie was the recipient of the very first artificial shell by means of 3-D printing technology and he was given a second chance at life.

The prosthetic shell was created by a team of artists, vets, and designers who worked together to give Freddie back the life he always knew before the tragic fire. A computer program aided in designing Freddie’s new shell which was modeled after another tortoise’s shell.Made from four corn-based plastic pieces that fit together like a jigsaw, the shell was assembled and placed on Freddie so that he can go back to blending into his environment and steering clear of predators. And he looks just as cute as he did before. When the shell was first placed on Freddie, it fit perfectly, however; its plain white color made it look anything about authentic. That is when a local artist volunteered to hand paint the shell, mimicking the real-life colors and design of a tortoise shell.

Freddie didn’t get her name until after she was fitted with the first ever prosthetic tortoise shell. The team who tended to her decided to name her Freddie because her burned shell looked like the face of Freddie Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street when she was first found.

In the video below you can watch Freddie happily walking around in his new shell. He seems completely content in his new surroundings.

Commenters thought the artist should’ve gotten a bit more creative…

“OMG the potential was endless- they could have added little spikes to his shell and maybe a little rocket launcher on top… oh well.”

And others shared their appreciation for technology…

“Man I love what nice things can come out of technology.”

“Wow, so many animals getting replacement limbs! It’s amazing what 3-D printers can do.”

“Poor little guy.Thank you for helping him!”

Freddie must be one grateful tortoise that rescuers found him in the first place. And now he is a celebrity!