For 11 years, a tortoise born with metabolic bone disease struggled to walk.
The animal, named George Bailey, used his front legs to pull himself around, “slowly and clumsily,” said his owner, Jaime Loebener, in a recent blog.
But the bigger that George grew, the harder it became -- “it” referring to the Sulcata tortoise’s mobility.
George Bailey, by the way, currently weighs about 70 pounds, and it’s possible that he lives a whopping 90 more years, according to published reports. So, needless to say, Loebener was hoping to find a permanent fix to improve George’s quality of life.
Enter: Walkin’ Pets, a pet company based in New Hampshire, that makes helpful devices for animals who are struggling with mobility.
Loebner had been searching online for some type of solution when she came across the business, which had previously built a custom wheelchair for a much-smaller tortoise named Scoot Reeves.
Although Scoot was a much smaller animal, “The Walkin’ Pets team was up for the challenge!” the company said.
“(It was designed as a) custom tortoise wheelchair with a special base featuring a convex support structure to accommodate the natural contour of George’s under-shell and a harnessing system to expand with George as he grows,” Walkin’ Pets said.
Take a look at the final result:
Introducing the FIRST-EVER giant tortoise in the Walkin' Wheels, taking his very first steps!!! 😍😍😍 We are so happy to have helped such a special soul. pic.twitter.com/CvVzeZZFCV— Walkin' Pets (@WalkinPets) June 2, 2021
George took to his new wheels right away, Loebner told Walkin’ Pets.
“George’s Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair is amazing!” she said, according to the company. “I put George on it, and he is able to move himself around!”
Here’s a before-and-after video:
It was the metabolic bone disease that prevented George’s back legs from fully developing. It’s a condition seen in many reptiles in captivity, where there’s an in-balance of calcium and phosphorus in their diets or environments that are too cold for them, according to this blog, that reads, in part: “In George Bailey’s case, (MBD) left the bones in his back legs underdeveloped. His rear leg muscles still work, so George is able to move his legs. George’s back legs are weak and give out frequently, which has been a growing problem as he gets bigger and bigger. Mobility (became) more challenging as George Bailey matured.”
Loebner adopted George from an exotic animal rescue in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The tortoise now seems to be living a “wonderful life.”
Walkin’ Pets has helped many other animals, as well. Here are three others we found on their social media pages (although there were many more, if you’re curious, or if you need some more cuteness in your life today). Technology is incredible, is it not?
We’re happy for you, George (and all the other four-legged friends!)