Yes, that penguin is wearing a shoe! Sandal company Teva came to the rescue of a young Humboldt penguin named Lucky with an impaired foot at the Santa Barbara Zoo by making a special shoe that lets him walk, jump and swim.
“It is not uncommon for chicks of many bird species to have ‘splayed legs’ as a result of being underneath their parents,” said bird keeper Rachel Miller, in a press release from Teva. “They usually respond to treatment. But Lucky didn’t.” Lucky was examined and x-rayed. No bones were broken, but the young chick’s leg was not developing normally. Treatments, including splints, weren't working. The idea for the shoe came when, at the age of two months, Lucky developed sores from putting pressure on the wrong parts of his foot when he jumped. To treat the sores, veterinarians and zookeepers began wrapping the penguin’s foot and padding the heel. “We remembered that years ago, Teva had fashioned a special boot for an elephant in San Antonio with foot issues,” added Miller. "We thought, if they can make a big elephant boot, they may be able to make a little penguin one.”
They measured Lucky's leg and foot, made models and sketches and experimented with different waterproof fabrics and designs. Teva designers hand-made several shoes for Lucky to try. The final version used cutting-edge technologies to make the shoe waterproof and ensure that Lucky doesn't lose his footing going in and out of the water.
Teva's design team volunteered hundreds of hours to design and make Lucky's shoe, and the company has committed to providing footwear for the penguin's entire lifespan.