Friday, July 20 , 2018, 11:58 pm | Fair 65º

 
 
 
 

Local News

‘Lucky’ Santa Barbara Zoo Penguin Gets Happy Feet with New Boot

Shoe company Teva creates a custom protective boot to cushion the animal's impaired webbed foot

Santa Barbara Zoo bird keeper Rachel Miller holds Lucky the penguin, fitted with a protective boot created by Teva for his disabled foot.
Santa Barbara Zoo bird keeper Rachel Miller holds Lucky the penguin, fitted with a protective boot created by Teva for his disabled foot. (Chuck Graham / Noozhawk photo)

There are 18 Humboldt penguins at the Santa Barbara Zoo, but only one of them is named Lucky — and for good reason.

He was born in a nest box on April 15, 2010, but after initial checkups with the zoo veterinarian, the seabird appeared hobbled by an impaired foot. Another examination and X-rays revealed no broken bones but did conclude that the gregarious penguin’s webbed foot wasn’t developing correctly.

“It’s not uncommon for chicks of any bird species to develop splayed legs as a result of being under their parents,” said bird keeper Rachel Miller, who cares for Lucky. “They usually respond to treatment, but Lucky didn’t.”

At 2 months old, Lucky developed sores while putting pressure on the wrong parts of his webbed foot, and treatment wasn’t curing the troubled foot.

Miller said they remembered that an elephant with a foot problem at the San Antonio Zoo was fitted with a protective boot created by adventure shoe company Teva.

“We thought if they can make a big elephant boot, then they may be able to make a little penguin one,” Miller said.

Not only did the shoe have to cushion Lucky’s foot, it had to be lightweight, provide traction, repel water and — above all — it had to be comfortable. Teva has committed to providing boots for Lucky for his entire lifespan.

Now he is able to congregate and socialize with the other 17 Humboldt penguins, whether it’s on land or torpedoing through the water.

Noozhawk contributor and local freelance writer Chuck Graham is editor of Deep magazine.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >