Doc Talk – Rocko’s New Shoes

Doc Talk – Rocko’s New Shoes

Seemingly outfitted in sleek tuxedos- from their webbed toes to the tip of their flippers- penguins are always dressed for the occasion. For Rocko, a 23-year-old, African penguin, he is taking his dapper look to the next level, making him the coolest kid in the yard thanks to a new pair of shoes and individualized care thanks to the team at the Roosevelt Park Zoo. Rocko was recently diagnosed with a foot condition known as bumble foot. This is a common condition for penguins both in the wild and in human care, similar to a corn on the foot, but could lead to infection if not addressed.

Rocko’s care team at RPZoo decided on a multi-faceted treatment plan including a combination of medication, hands-on foot treatments, and the use of custom-made footwear.

Similar to custom foot orthotics, a tracing of Rocko’s feet was made and sent to an individual who makes custom footwear for chickens and ducks, suffering from the same disease. This provides a more custom fit to his shoes, allowing him to walk in sand and even swim while still wearing his shoes.

After fitting Rocko with his new shoes, it was clear the shoes were a step in the right direction. His gait and posture improved, allowing him to navigate his habitat and even swim with ease. Animal care staff were pleasantly surprised at the immediate changes which brings renewed hope that Rocko will be able to continue living a full and healthy life.

In the wild, the life expectancy of an African penguin is 10 to 15 years, but many at Roosevelt Park Zoo have exceeded that.

Rocko can be identified by a black and yellow bracelet on his left wing.

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