Disabled duck in Washington state needs new legs

Disabled duck in Washington state needs new legs
Three-month-old Pearl is unable to use her legs and struggles to move around freely. (KIRO7.com News Staff)

YELM, Wash. — A disabled duck in Washington state is getting a new lease on life using 3-D printed legs.

Unable to use her legs, 3-month-old Pearl, a Peking duck, struggles to move around freely.

“She will flail around and use her beak to try and keep herself up, and flap her wings, and hit her wings on things and her wings will start to bleed,” Tamborine Borelli of Yelm told KIRO-TV.

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Borelli rescued Pearl and her sister, Lucy, when they were a week old. Pearl had splayed legs and slipped tendons. Borelli tried to help correct the problem, but as Pearl grew, her legs couldn’t handle the weight.

“Every day my heart just breaks for her, because I can just hear her ... just crying, and I’ll run out to her, and she’ll be stuck somewhere, in a bush,” Borelli told KIRO.

Pearl’s joints are also swollen, and her chest feathers are damaged from constantly dragging her body on the ground. Determined to help Pearl, Borelli researched options for disabled ducks and came across Dudley’s story. A Canadian company, Proto3000, printed a 3-D prosthetic leg for Dudley in 2014. When the company heard Pearl’s story, it offered to donate its services.

“Something like this, where you can make a difference in someone’s life or an animal’s life, it’s heartwarming,” Chris McAloney, Proto3000 operations manager, told KIRO. “It makes you feel good, makes you smile and we can all use that from time to time. It isn’t about the business. It’s nice. It helps to boost the team, boost morale.”

To use the 3-D printed legs, Pearl needed surgery. Bridget Ferguson of Pine Tree Veterinary Hospital in Maple Valley also donated her services. On Tuesday, Ferguson removed both of Pearl’s feet so the prosthetics can be fitted to the joints.

“It just makes me sad she can’t walk around. She can’t be a duck, and that’s the part I am really hoping between the surgery and the prosthesis, she will be able to be herself,” Ferguson said. It “feels great to be a part of a group of people who all wanted to donate.”

Pearl is now on the road to recovery, and could be ready to waddle with her prosthetic legs by mid-August.

“To not see her struggle like that in pain, it’s going to make my heart feel so light and happy,” Borelli told KIRO.

To learn more about Pearl’s journey, or to help with her recovery, Borelli set up a GoFundMe account.