A Calgary bird who lost his feet to frostbite is now walking thanks to a pair of artificial talons created on a 3D printer.

Left with just stumps and unable to walk, Foghorn the footless rooster was discovered earlier this year by the city's animal and bylaw services.

Dr. Daniel Pang, an assistant professor in the University of Calgary's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, wanted to help when heard about the rooster's condition. Pang's area of research is in small animal pain and welfare.

"I immediately thought of Dr. Mark Ungrin as I knew he had a 3D printer in his laboratory and he might be able to design and create prosthetic feet for the rooster," he said in a release.

The two veterinarians put their noggins together and brought in an undergraduate mechanical engineering student to help manufacture the fake feet.

Footless rooster

Student Douglas Kondro (left) created a pair of 3D printed prosthetic feet for Foghorn the rooster. Dr. Daniel Pang (right) teaches in the University of Calgary's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. (University of Calgary)

Douglas Kondro, who specializes in biomedical engineering, began by taking some molds of Foghorn's stubs and scanned them to make a computer model.

Then he got his hands on some wild turkey talons and repeated the process.

"I printed off the stumps and printed off the new feet and painted them with silicone so they'd be sturdy but flexible and soft for the rooster," said Kondro in a release.

​"The first ones didn't work. He couldn't really walk and kept falling over so I was pretty disappointed," he said.

But Kondro's version 2.0 of the prosthetic rooster feet were a success and he strapped them on the plucky bird.

"It was pretty exciting to see him strut around."

"This was a very interdisciplinary project," said Dr. Ungrin. 

Foghorn the rooster was adopted by a family and is enjoying his new feet on an acreage near Didsbury.   

"Even though things started out purely by chance, this collaboration is really a very good example of how clinical sciences can tie in with basic researchers and solve a very real and very acute problem," said Pang.