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How a 3D printer gave Bruce the goose a new lease on life

Posted at 8:55 PM, Mar 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-11 22:55:48-04

CACHE COUNTY — The Cache County community rallied around one of their feathered friends who was injured a few weeks ago—using a 3D printer to save his life.

Bruce the 13-year-old, domestic, Chinese Goose was brought to Sandy’s Haven after a raccoon injured Bruce, leaving him with no bill.

Susan Curtis, director of Sandy’s Haven, a non-profit sanctuary for injured wildlife and farm animals, said without a bill, a goose could lose their life.

“Their mouth will dry out, they can’t eat as well, they can’t drink, they can’t take care of themselves and they can’t defend themselves,” said Curtis.

Approaching 4H Cache Makers, Curtis asked them if they could create a bill with their 3D printer.

John Meade, a volunteer with Cache Makers said he wasn’t sure how they would do it, but was willing to try for Bruce.

“You get a feeling he’s kind of a buddy and you’re helping a pal,” said Meade.

Using their computers, Meade designed the new bill.

Carmen Ramirez, an intern with Cache Makers, helped Meade slice the design.

“We created supports that hold up the dome so it doesn’t cave in,” said Ramirez.

After printing multiple models and fitting them to Bruce, Ramirez and Meade were ready to print a more malleable bill.

Jody Curtis, the operations manager at Sandy’s Haven said they used a special glue to put the bill on Bruce.

“It’s used in dentistry for placing crowns in place,” said Jody.

Creating two little holes at the top, Bruce’s new crown allows him to eat normally again, to groom himself and to fit in at the farm.

“At first, he shook his head rejecting it, but then he started moving his mouth up and down, and starting to use the beak,” said Ramirez. “It was really cool.”

The first thing Bruce learned to do, said Curtis, was blow bubbles.

“He’ll submerge his entire head and blow bubbles through the holes,” said Curtis.

With his fully-functioning bill, Curtis said the other animal as the farm has accepted him—whereas before, they treated Bruce differently.

“Being able to have this prosthetic he can do all of the goose things,” said Curtis.

Bruce will also help others fit in who have to go through something similar to what he experienced.

“One thing we really enjoy is bringing these animals into assisted livings and places like that so people can see how their lives are turning out and the pleasure they can bring,” said Jody.

The new bill has not only given Bruce his life back, but Jody said he likely will live a few more years.

Bruce will make his first public appearance at the Stokes Center towards the end of March.