My first story for Flayrah was about Oscar, the first cat to get prosthetic limbs. Only one line – it was before Newsbytes were added – but the feline Oscar remains a good role model. (Unfortunately, the human Oscar, my fellow South African, multiple gold-winning Paralympian and first amputee to compete in the able-bodied Olympics, dropped the ball in that regard.)
There are many other examples of animals with prosthetics. Perhaps the most notable would be Winter, a dolphin with a prosthetic tail. In 2011, her story was adapted into a feature film, Dolphin Tail. Moving from a cat to her demonstrates the breadth of animals that these tools and surgeries are helping.
The mention of an amputee flaunting a showy, bird-plumaged prosthetic arm should make the Furry connection clear, in this story about the work of the Alternative Limb Project (ALP) and it's director, Sophie de Oliveira Barata.
De Oliveira Barata is "challenging the belief that prosthetic limbs should aim to look as realistic as possible." Her career started in special effects for film and TV, before she moved to work with a realistic prosthetics company for eight years. In her opinion:
The dominant thinking is that a new limb should be as close a match to the previous limb as possible. But until technology gets to the point where you can have a realistic looking limb in movement and aesthetics, there will always be this uncanny middle ground. Having an alternative limb embraces difference and can help create a sense of ownership and empowerment.
The new option for limbs include crystal, stereo speakers, lighting, and simulated internal anatomy to tranform disability-concealers into creative, eye-catching fashion. What's next, hooves and paws?