Meet Cottontail, a young eastern grey kangaroo who was recently involved in a car accident that resulted in the eventual amputation of four inches of her tail. Debbie Gawley of Australian Wildlife Rescue Service, who rescued the young roo, felt compelled to figure out how to help Cottontail use her tail—which for kangaroos is incredibly important for balance, support, and propulsion. She sought out the services of Adrian Brown at SSS Prosthetic and Orthotics, in Far North Queensland, Australia. The company usually works with humans, but decided to take on the challenge of building a prosthetic tail for the sweet joey.
Australia Broadcasting Corporation provides more details:
After taking a cast of the remainder of the kangaroo's tail, Mr Brown set about making a mould that would be used to create a mount for the prosthetic.
"I thought, 'OK, how are we going to make the tail?' and I had a brainwave, and I thought a shoehorn [shape] would be really good," he said.
"I looked up Dr Google, because I didn't know what a kangaroo tail is made up of, and it's full of vertebrae, so whatever we made had to be flexible.
"The tail is quite an important bit of gear when you're a kangaroo because it offers them balance."
The "paddle" section of the flexible carbon-graphite prosthetic is about the same size as a shoehorn and weighs just a few grams.
He said the "paddle" was screwed onto the plastic mount, which was then secured to the remainder of the kangaroo's tail with Velcro.
Much to everyone's delight, the prosthetic fits Cottontail and she's adjusting well to it. It's designed to be a temporary aid to help the young roo build up strength in her tail. The ultimate goal is to release her into Dipperu National Park so that she can join a mob of kangaroos there in about a year.