Zoo penguin dons custom shoes to alleviate pain from arthritis

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At the St. Louis Zoo, Enrique, an elderly penguin, has been wearing custom shoes designed to alleviate the pain from his arthritis.

“This week, our geriatric penguin Enrique was seen showing off the therapeutic support boots he wears for arthritis. Like many zoo animals, Enrique is far older than would be expected if he were to live in the wild, and his cool kicks allow him to live a more comfortable life,” the zoo posted on Twitter.

When a visitor to the zoo noticed Enrique’s unique footwear, his curiosity led him to the details which have since been shared on Facebook:

Me: There’s a penguin over there wearing shoes.
Zookeeper (deadpan): Yep.
*awkward silence*
Me: Um… why?
Explanation: He’s an extremely old penguin. Far older than would naturally survive in the wild. As a result, he has developed the penguin equivalent of arthritis in his feet. The zoo has a very effective pain relieving cream they can put on, but it washes off when he goes into the water. So they sewed him tiny shoes made of wetsuit fabric to keep the cream on. No more pain and he can even swim with them on.
According to the St. Louis Dispatch, Enrique is estimated to be more than 30-years-old, and since arthritis has set in, he has slowed down. He also has developed thicker callouses on the bottom of his feet. The zoo’s veterinarian, Dr. Jimmy Johnson stated he had seen swans fitted for boots because of feet related issues and thought this kind of footwear would give Enrique relief.
A New Jersey company, Thera-Paw designed the black strap-on boots with red grips. They are put on him in the morning and removed at night; Enrique seems to be doing better.
As one of the clever writers at the St. Louis Dispatch stated – “These boots are made for waddling.”

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