One "lucky" penguin is walking, jumping and swimming again thanks to adventure-footwear company Teva and a custom-designed shoe.
Lucky, a young Humbolt penguin at the Santa Barbara Zoo, developed splayed legs — likely a result of being underneath his parents — and wasn't responding to treatment. Splints failed to correct the abnormal development, and the limping penguin developed sores on his foot from putting pressure on his heel instead of his toes, wearing through the skin and suffering from infections.
To treat the penguin's sore foot, zookeepers wrapped and padded Lucky's foot. It wasn't enough.
"We remembered that years ago, Teva had fashioned a special boot for an elephant in San Antonio with foot issues," said bird keeper Rachel Miller. "We thought, if they can make a big elephant boot, they may be able to make a little penguin one."
Teva came to Lucky's foot's rescue. After countless sketches, models, and experiences with various fabrics, designs and samples, Lucky was fitted with a custom waterproof shoe that can withstand the swimming and jumping demands of the young bird.
"Teva is an expert at creating shoes for use in, on and around the water, which is just what our little penguin needed," said Zoo CEO Rich Block. "The penguin isn't the only one who is lucky — the Zoo is fortunate to have such terrific community partners."
Teva's design team didn't just volunteer countless hours to Lucky's special footwear. The company has pledged to provide Lucky with shoes for the rest of his life.
"Our product team is experienced at collaborating with athletes but Lucky presented a unique challenge. We went through a bit more trial and error because of the language barrier, but Lucky knew what he was looking for in performance footwear, and he let us know when we had it right. In Lucky, we found a new friend and the perfect Teva athlete," Teva president Pete Worley said.