3D Printer Gives Duck Second Chance at Life

Philip the duck lost his feet to frostbite, but a middle school teacher found the way to let the injured bird waddle once more.

Darkwing Duck has a new crime-fighting partner now that Phillip the duck is fitted with strong, new Ninja-Flex feet. Thanks to some creative and compassionate Wisconsin souls, Phillip is the Duck of the Year, and proud new owner of 3D printed prosthetic feet.

But, why did this duck need new feet? Unfortunately, winter in Wisconsin is no joke, and the harsh, cold season left Phillip’s feet shriveled and useless from frostbite.

A Good Samaritan, Vicki Rabe-Harrison, saw a picture of Phillip in a post about a woman forced to leave her home and unable to care for her farm animals. Rabe-Harrison didn’t think twice and immediately came to the rescue of the injured duck.

Phillip’s frostbitten feet were amputated. Unable to walk or swim, Phillip’s life was anything but “ducky.” Rabe-Harrison saw a video about prosthetics, and that’s when she emailed South Park Middle School to see if they could design something for Philip with their 3D printer.

3D Printer Helps Save Duck

Phillip the Duck before his new feet (Photo credit: WBAY ABC 2)

At first, Jason Jischke, the technology teacher, thought the email was a joke. But then, he was convinced he could save this duck. He called Rabe-Harrison directly from his classroom. She received the call just one hour before Phillip was scheduled to be put down. “Hold off! Hold off” Jischke shouted, he was already making the feet.

Literally saved from the brink of death, this little duck was about to get a second chance at life.

Six-weeks of trial and error with some feet too small, and others too hard, Jischke finally hit upon just the right fit. Thanks to a generous donation of a strong and flexible material called Ninja-Flex, he finally had the perfect prosthetic for his web-footed friend.

It took 36 hours for the 3D printer to complete the feet, and everyone was on pins and needles to know if they would work for Phillip.

3D Printed Duck Feet

Phillip the Duck Shows Off his New Feet (Photo credit: WBAY ABC 2)


Phillip the Duck Shows Off his New Feet (Source: WBAY ABC 2)

Phillip the Duck Shows Off his New Feet (Photo Credit: WBAY ABC 2)

The entire school came out to watch Phillip try his new feet for the first time. With tears in their eyes, and exclamations of, “He’s so cute!” Phillip delighted everyone’s heart as he took his first steps.

“He picked it up real fast, and I’m sure he’ll learn to balance again and be able to waddle around with all the other ducks,” said Rabe-Harrison.

You can watch the heartwarming video of Phillip the duck’s first steps on 3D printed prosthetic feet here.

So, what’s next for Phillip? Now that spring is here, and Phillip is ready to shake his tail feathers again, he’s off to an animal sanctuary in Cedarburg, Wisconsin according to ABC 2 News. He gets to enjoy the company of other ducks, and swim and run in open spaces.

While it’s a bittersweet goodbye for Rabe-Harrison and Jischke, who grew quite attached to the brave duck, it is still, as Jischke stated, “A huge accomplishment, and I’m so happy for Phillip, giving him that second walk of life.”

This is just one more awesome way that 3D printers are changing the world, but it isn’t the first time a 3D printer has saved the day for an injured animal. Many animals have gained a second chance at life thanks to prosthetic limbs. There’s Cleopatra the Turtle who received a new shell, and Derby the Dog who was born with deformed front legs, but now runs like a champ with his 3D printed prosthetics.

Phillip, the injured duck who lost his feet to frostbite and nearly lost his life, now lives to quack another day thanks to the ingenuity and determination of two kind souls in Oshkosh, WI.

And, you must admit, Phillip looks pretty slick in his 3D printed orange flippers. He’s sure to be the talk of the animal sanctuary when he arrives at his new home.

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