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Nature (Season 32) – My Bionic Pet
Air date: 04/09/2014

THIRTEEN’S Nature Relates Stories of Animals Getting a New Lease on Life when My Bionic Pet airs Wednesday, April 9, 2014 on PBS

 

The use of animal prosthetics is on the rise

 

Animals who have met with misfortune, whether from a birth defect, accident, disease or even human cruelty, are now getting a second chance at life due to human intervention and technological advances. Left disabled without limbs, fins, flippers, beaks or tails, these creatures face a grim future, if one at all. But innovative prosthetics can change those survival odds if someone comes to their rescue.

Nature profiles these animals, their rescuers and the individuals whose work has transformed their lives when My Bionic Pet airs Wednesday, April 9 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). After the broadcast, the episode will be available for online streaming at pbs.org/nature.

My Bionic Pet shows that while animal prosthetics are sometimes later retrofitted for human needs, engineers most often adapt human technologies to an animal’s anatomy. Westcoast Brace & Limb in Tampa, Florida, made its first brace for a dog named Journey, a golden retriever born without his front left paw. Jennifer Robinson, until recently the patient program director at Westcoast, and born with a limb deficiency of both legs, has a close bond with him. She often worked with Journey, a certified therapy dog, helping amputees adjust to life with prosthetics. The dog has also become a favorite visitor to patients at St. Joseph’s Children Hospital, as well as veterans and the elderly.

The fabrication and subsequent operation to attach artificial limbs can be expensive, but as My Bionic Pet explains, a number of people have volunteered to assume the costs — sometimes with fundraising support — and even care of these disabled animals. Los Angeles area friends Kathy Wyer and Elodie Lorenz decided to co-foster Roofus, a blind golden retriever with deformed front legs, and arrange for specialized prosthetics that allow him to walk with all four legs. Likewise, Tara Bayne and Devin Napier from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, became owners of Driftwood, a border collie puppy born with both rear feet missing. Nature follows Driftwood’s surgery and subsequent first steps on his new artificial hind feet.

The documentary notes that it’s often a matter of trial and error before a solution is reached. It was a team effort by Phoenix’s Core Institute and Midwestern University professor Justin Georgi to design a replacement rubber tail for Mr. Stubbs, an alligator whose appendage was bitten off by a larger gator. Other stories include replacing part of a swan’s deformed beak so he can preen and eat properly at the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue in Indian Trail, North Carolina; and providing Molly, an injured pony, with a new prosthetic leg so she can serve as a therapy animal around the New Orleans area.

Not every disability requires a high-tech solution. When a piglet, born with deformed, unusable back legs, was brought to veterinarian Dr. Len Lucero’s clinic to be euthanized, the Florida vet offered to take care of him. Dr. Lucero built a wheeled harness from some of his son’s old toys so newly named pet Chris P. Bacon could move around. The porcine pet has since graduated to a wheelchair originally built for dogs, having outgrown his first homemade device.

Nature is a production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET for PBS.  For Nature, Fred Kaufman is executive producer. My Bionic Pet is a production of Pangolin Pictures and THIRTEEN Productions LLC in association with WNET.

Nature pioneered a television genre that is now widely emulated in the broadcast industry.  Throughout its history, Nature has brought the natural world to millions of viewers.  The series has been consistently among the most-watched primetime series on public television.

Nature has won almost 700 honors from the television industry, the international wildlife film communities and environmental organizations, including 11 Emmys and three Peabodys.  The series received two of wildlife film industry’s highest honors: the Christopher Parsons Outstanding Achievement Award given by the Wildscreen Festival and the Grand Teton Award given by the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. Recently, the International Wildlife Film Festival honored Nature executive producer Fred Kaufman with its Lifetime Achievement Award for Media.

PBS.org/nature is the award-winning web companion to Nature, featuring streaming episodes, filmmaker interviews, teacher’s guides and more.

Support for this Nature program was made possible in part by the Arnhold Family in memory of Clarisse Arnhold, the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, the Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation, by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by the nation’s public television stations.

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About WNET
As New York’s flagship public media provider and the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mike Schneider and MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also a leader in connecting with viewers on emerging platforms, including the THIRTEEN Explore iPad App where users can stream PBS content for free.

 

About “Think Wednesday”

My Bionic Pet is part of PBS’ new “Think Wednesday” programming lineup of television’s best science, nature and technology programming that includes the acclaimed series NATURE and NOVA, the highest-rated nature and science series on television, coupled with new special programming at 10 p.m.  Wednesday nights on PBS offer new perspectives on life in the universe and keep viewers both curious and wanting more.

 

Photos
For editorial use in North America only in conjunction with the direct publicity or promotion of NATURE. No other rights are granted. All rights reserved. Downloading this image constitutes agreement to these terms.
Nature: My Bionic Pet

Wide shot, Chris P. Bacon the pig on a lawn, Sumterville, FL. Photo Credit: Kevin Bachar ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC

Nature: My Bionic Pet

Dr. Len Lucero and Chris P. Bacon the pig playing on gray backdrop. Photo Credit: Kevin Bachar ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC

Nature: My Bionic Pet

Portrait of Chris P. Bacon the pig on grass. Photo Credit: Kevin Bachar ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC

Nature: My Bionic Pet

Portrait of Dr. Len Lucero outdoors, Sumterville, FL. Photo Credit: Kevin Bachar ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC

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Doctor holding Sitara the swan’s head with new prosthetic beak, Durham, NC. Photo Credit: Lizette Gesuden ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC

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Portrait of Journey the dog against gray backdrop, Tampa, FL. Photo Credit: Kevin Bachar ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC

Nature: My Bionic Pet

Portrait of Jennifer Robinson and Journey the dog, Tampa, FL. Photo Credit: Kevin Bachar ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC

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Molly the pony surrounded by children with braces and walkers petting her, St. Rose, LA. Photo Credit: Lizette Gesuden ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC

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Portrait of Molly the pony against gray backdrop, St. Rose, LA. Photo Credit: Lizette Gesuden ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC

Nature: My Bionic Pet

Kathy Wyer and Roofus the dog, portrait on gray backdrop. Photo Credit: Lizette Gesuden ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC

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Driftwood the dog sitting on exam table with prosthetic feet on, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Photo Credit: Lizette Gesuden ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC

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Stubbs the alligator laying on stone porch with prosthetic tail on, swimming pool in background, Scottsdale, AZ. Photo Credit: Lizette Gesuden ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC

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Martin Kaufmann, co-owner and founder of OrthoPets, revealing his new mechanical limb education set for veterinary student anatomy education. Denver, CO. Photo Credit: ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC

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Martin Kaufmann, co-owner and founder of OrthoPets, investigating a new single wheel adaptive device for a 3 legged dog. Denver, CO. Photo Credit ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC

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Driftwood the dog standing in the woods with prosthetic feet on, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Photo Credit: Andy Seestedt ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC

Nature: My Bionic Pet

Roofus the dog sitting on lawn with prosthetics on, Topanga, CA. Photo Credit: Andy Seestedt ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC

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Wide shot, Journey the dog lays at visitors feet at Westcoast Brace and Limb, Tampa, FL. Photo Credit: Kevin Bachar ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC