Normally, when a tortoise’s shell is damaged, the tortoise will die shortly afterwards. This happens because a tortoise’s inner body is not meant to be exposed to the elements or predators, so it is greatly endangered. Therefore, when a tortoise named Freddy was caught in a brush fire in Brazil that burned away his shell, his outlook seemed bleak. Typically, a tortoise can live for up to 184 years, but since Freddy was too slow to run away from a fire, he risked imminent death.
Though Freddy had managed to survive through a forest fire that had killed many other animals around him, he was not likely to survive the week. However, a group of kindhearted veterinarians came to his aid. The Sao Paulo group of surgeons and scientists is called the Animal Avengers, and they use their talents to save animals who would otherwise die. The brilliant group of veterinarians managed to prevent Freddy from risking injuries or infections by creating a brand new shell just for Freddy.
The Animal Avengers used 3D technology to create a custom molded shell just for little Freddy. According to Cicero Moraes, the designer of the shell, “Freddy was the first tortoise in the world to receive a fully rebuilt hull.” The shell was designed by examining the natural shape of a tortoise’s shell, which was then configured in a 3D computer imaging model to match Freddy’s unique measurements.
Freddy’s shell was then built by Dr. Paulo Miamoto, who is a dental surgeon that uses a desktop 3D printer in his business. Dr. Miamoto printed out four pieces of a tortoise’s shell, which could be slotted together just like a puzzle. Once The shell was attached around Freddy, it was hand painted to mimic normal colors, so he would not stand out in his environment. Altogether, it took four veterinarians, a 3D designer, and a dental surgeon to fix Freddy’s shell.
Thanks to these brilliant people who donated their time to helping a wounded animal, Freddy was able to go back to his normal life. Freddy is just one of the many animals helped by Dr. Paulo Miamoto, Dr. Rodrigo Rabello, Dr. Matheus Rabella, Dr. Roberto Fecchio, Dr. Sergio Camargo, and Cicero Moraes. The Animal Avengers have also used 3D design to reconstruct artificial beaks for injured toucans and parrots, and they’ve even created a beak from metal for a damaged Macaw parrot.
The Animal Avengers say, “We first came together as friends because of our common love of science and our love for animals. We soon realised we could do some extraordinary work using cutting-edge technology to push back the boundaries of life-saving care for mutilated animals by giving them customised prostheses.” These brilliant scientists and doctors are using their talents to save the lives of animals and allow them to function again. They primarily work with birds, so Freddy is the first tortoise that they have helped. You can look at these heartwarming photos to see Freddy as he learns to explore again with his brand new shell.