Buttercup took to his new foot like a duck to water, walking with it minutes after he was fitted.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For the first time in his life, Buttercup can walk like any other duck, thanks to a prosthesis developed with the help of a 3-D printer.
In a YouTube video posted Monday, the peg-legged duck squawks, waddles and walks on the bright red contraption as he is encouraged by his owner Mike Garey, the duck's owner and one of the founders of Feathered Angels Waterfowl Sanctuary in Arlington, Tenn.
"I was pretty much overcome with emotion. It was so thrilling," Garey said. "I was happy it worked, but I was so much more happy for Buttercup. You could tell he was so comfortable."
Over the weekend, Garey poured a mold for Buttercup's prosthetic and eventually fashioned the artificial webbed foot itself. On Sunday night, Garey slipped a special sock over Buttercup's peg to allow the prosthesis to stay in place comfortably and attached his new foot.
Then, at least for Buttercup, it was off to the races.
Garey said he was afraid Buttercup would be scared at first and wouldn't react well to the new prosthetic. He was amazed when Buttercup took off running after only having his new foot for a few minutes.
"It's different for him because his leg is taller than it used to be when he just had the peg," Garey said. "His muscles will have to adjust, but I'm amazed at how well he's doing right off the bat."
The domestic white duck was born in a high school biology lab with a backward left leg, which prevented him from walking normally. He later was given to Garey at Feathered Angels, and Garey knew Buttercup couldn't survive with his deformity.
In February, a veterinarian amputated Buttercup's foot while Garey began looking into prosthetic options. He chose a Nashville-based copier reseller, NovaCopy, to help him with the project because of the company's high-resolution 3-D printers. NovaCopy donated its time, expertise and technology for the project.
Garey developed a design and sent the files to Joel Graves, a NovaCopy 3-D printing engineer, who started a 13.5-hour printing process for a prototype.
And now Buttercup is going on a little victory tour: He's traveling Tuesday from his sanctuary in suburban Memphis to NovaCopy in Nashville for a party in his honor, and the public is welcome to attend.