Zoo gorilla’s broken arm after scuffle on mend with 3D-printer

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Animal lovers rejoice! Gladys, a beloved 11-year-old gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, is recovering well after sustaining a broken arm in a minor altercation with other females in her troop. In a press release on Thursday, the zoo announced Gladys has been separated from the other gorillas, but she can still see and hear them.

From Scuffle to Surgery

The incident occurred in April 2024. While squabbles among gorillas are not uncommon, Gladys suffered a complete fracture in her humerus (upper arm bone) after a fall. Recognizing the severity of the injury, the zoo’s veterinary team sprang into action.

Collaboration for a Custom Cast

Gladys’s case required a special touch. Due to her strength and active lifestyle, a traditional cast wouldn’t suffice. The zoo partnered with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and GE Additive to create a revolutionary solution: a custom-made, 3D-printed cast crafted from titanium.

This innovative cast offered several advantages:

  • Durability: Titanium is far stronger than traditional cast materials, minimizing the risk of re-injury during Gladys’s recovery.
  • Comfort: The 3D-printed design ensured a perfect fit, providing optimal comfort and support for Gladys’s arm.

Road to Recovery

Gladys underwent surgery on April 14, to repair the fracture and received the pioneering 3D-printed cast. The zoo’s dedicated care team is monitoring her closely, providing pain medication, nutritional support, and enrichment activities to keep her spirits high.

She has tolerated this cast much better than the temporary one that was placed on her arm during surgery to repair her broken bone. Despite it weighing about 8 pounds, she’s been able to get around better than we expected.

Zoo personnel spokesperson

Positive Prognosis

Early reports are encouraging. Gladys is tolerating the cast well and is expected to make a full recovery. Following cast removal, she will undergo physical therapy to regain full use of her arm.

Gladys’s story highlights the remarkable advancements in veterinary medicine. The collaborative effort between the zoo, hospital, and medical technology company showcases the power of innovation in animal care.

Stay tuned for further updates on Gladys’s progress! The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden will share news on their website and social media channels. Gladys arrived at the zoo in 2013 as an orphan and has continued to grow and thrive.

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Best wishes for a complete recovery Gladys.

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