We've seen shoes on people, dogs, and horses. But can you believe that there are also special shoes for webbed feet? Yup, companies like Thera-Paw, Inc. make booties for our feathered friends who are in desperate need of special footwear.
Photo courtesy Kimberly Washington
Enrique is a Southern Rockhopper Penguin who lives at the St Louis Zoo with 19 other penguins, including his special lady friend, Paris. He's a very unusual penguin because the typical life span of a Rockhopper is 10 years and Enrique is 30…YES, 30 years old!
Enrique has arthritis in his feet, and St. Louis Zoo staff veterinarian Jimmy Johnson, DVM, MS, CertAqV, DACZM felt that padded booties would improve Enrique's comfort and mobility. Here's an excerpt from the Veterinary Practice News story where Enrique made a splash:
|"Johnson conceived a type of boot to give Enrique sufficient ankle support while also cushioning the bottoms of his feet, and reached out to Thera-Paw, a company traditionally known for rehabilitative and assistive products for dogs and cats, to create a custom-made prototype...Interestingly, Enrique is not the first penguin to receive an orthotic from Thera-Paw, says president and CEO Ilaria Borghese. “We’ve had a number of zoos contact us,” she notes. “We’ve made boots for penguins, flamingos, and black-neck swans, all with different issues.”|
These boots have made a huge difference in Enrique's quality of life. Dr. Johnson noted that the little geriatric penguin is now much more comfortable and active, engaging in normal daily activities like climbing and socializing, which were difficult for him before his boots. Thera-Paw even made sure that the boots matched Enrique’s colors. That's a dapper bird! For the full Veterinary Practice News article, see Real Life, Happy Feet.
Penguins, and other birds (including chickens and birds of prey), can get a common foot condition called "bumblefoot", an infection that causes swelling and pain. Calluses are also common, and can be quite painful. Companies like Thera-Paw make various styles of bird boots, each customized to meet their specific needs. The photo below shows the "open front" boots, which are heavily padded under the main part of the foot but leave the front of the foot open so that the bird can use their claws to walk and climb.
Now Meet "Wrinkle"!
Wrinkle, an emotional support Pekin duck, was a runaway hit when she joined her owner to race in this year's NYC Marathon. Wrinkle ran in the race along with her human counterparts sporting homemade red shoes to protect her feet from the rough parts of the city streets. Wrinkle may not have won the Marathon, but she became an instant sensation with the crowd cheering her on as she waddled by! Adidas and Peloton even commented on this runaway rock star. Check out the full story here: People Can't Get Enough of this Duck Running the NYC Marathon - Shoes and All. Adidas and Thera-Paw should combine forces to develop a fab line of fowl-friendly, fashionable footwear. Who needs to fly when you have happy feet!