The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Nation & World

July 19, 2013

Three-legged donkey Emma: A lesson for veterinarians

AUBURN, Ala. — Emma the miniature donkey runs around the barnyard and kicks playfully like most any animal her size. But she lacks one thing: A right hind leg.

Outfitted with a prosthetic limb shortly after birth, Emma has become a test case for veterinarians hoping to save the lives of horses, donkeys and similar animals that are typically euthanized because of leg deformities or fractures.

Born in April 2012 with a right rear hoof that wouldn't extend, Emma underwent surgery to amputate the limb at Auburn University when she was just a foal.

Today she's a healthy, active donkey with a 1,600-pound best friend — a horse named "Tank" — and a talent for kicking visitors with her pink prosthetic leg.

"That's how she plays. She does what any other donkey would do," said Dr. Jim Brendemuehl, a veterinarian who helps care for Emma at Auburn and owns her buddy Tank.

Emma has outgrown several prosthetic legs as she has grown.

The limbs are a combination of heavy-duty, molded plastic impregnated with carbon fiber for strength. To put the prosthetic on the donkey, handlers must fit Emma's stump with a sock and a rubbery sleeve before putting her leg back into the device. Then she can go for a walk.

Veterinary experts and students alike have learned important lessons from Emma, like how to place the sleeve in a way that her stump isn't irritated by sand when she lays down in the corral and rolls around while wearing the prosthetic.

Then there's the problem of finding a buckle that a curious donkey won't peel open with her teeth.

Dr. Fred Caldwell, who has been involved with Emma's treatment from the start, said the team caring for the 175-pound donkey hopes to transfer the lessons learned to larger animals such as horses, which are much more difficult to equip with prosthetics because of their weight and size.

Text Only
Nation & World
  • news_skoreaferry.jpg Ferry captain arrested in South Korea disaster

    A prosecutor says the captain of the South Korean ferry that sank two days ago has been arrested.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clinton visit.jpg Documents: Clinton sought GOP support for health care

    Thousands of pages of documents from President Bill Clinton's White House affirm a longtime adage: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Student struggles to recount fatal truck-bus crash

    Most of the 911 calls from witnesses to last week's fiery truck-bus collision that killed 10 were matter of fact. Then there was the one from a passenger: With shrieks in the background, the student struggled to recount how a truck came roaring toward them.

    April 18, 2014

  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

     A powerful, magnitude-7.5 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday. The U.S. Geological Survey said it was centered northwest of the Pacific resort of Acapulco, where many Mexicans are vacationing for the Easter holiday.

    April 18, 2014

  • Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

    An avalanche swept down a climbing route on Mount Everest early Friday, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving three missing in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak.

    April 18, 2014

  • news_horselesscarriage.jpg Proposed car to replace NYC horse carriages shown

    An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City was presented Thursday at the New York International Auto Show, as critics expressed their distaste for the idea.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_homesickforprison.jpg Man said to be homesick for prison gets 3½ years

    An ex-con who spent most of his adult life behind bars on Thursday got what he said he wanted for robbing a suburban Chicago bank. The 74-year-old gets to go back to the place he called home — prison.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gay Marriage Utah [Duplicate] Judge asks pointed questions in gay marriage case

    A judge in Colorado who will play a pivotal role deciding whether gays should be allowed to wed in the United States asked pointed questions Thursday about whether Oklahoma can legally ban the unions.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_obamalocalschools.jpg Obama: 8 million signed up for health care

    Eight million people have signed up for health care through new insurance exchanges and the proportion of younger applicants has increased, President Barack Obama said Thursday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0107 Super WAL-MART 1 Wal-Mart jumps into the money transfer biz, loudly

    The world's largest retailer introduced a new money transfer service Thursday that it says will cut fees for its low-income customers by up to 50 percent compared with similar services elsewhere.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium