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Geriatric penguin gets shoes to help with his arthritis

Tuesday, June 22nd 2021, 11:43 am - Enrique is starting to feel the effects of his wise old age.

In the wild, rockhopper penguins live for about 10 years but in captivity, they can live for much longer than that. Take Enrique, for example, a penguin who lives at the St. Louis Zoo.

He arrived at the zoo in 2016 and is estimated to be around 30 years old.

Enrique starting to feel the effects of his golden years.

Like humans, penguins slow down when they get older, and Enrique has developed arthritis on his feet. It has hindered his movement, so veterinarians began treating him with topical medication, but that proved to be cumbersome as it had to be reapplied every time he emerged from a swim.

Enrique - st louis zoo Enrique and his fancy new kicks. (Kimberley Washington/St. Louis Zoo)

Zookeepers reached out to an organization called Thera-Paw which makes therapeutic boots for animals.

They commissioned a custom pair for Enrique, and they appear to be working.

Thanks to his new shoes, Enrique doesn't require medicine and he's moving faster and swimming more frequently.

enrique2 Enrique is moving faster, thanks to his new shoes. (Kimberley Washington/St. Louis Zoo)

"We always say his longevity is a credit to the zoo continuing to provide him with great care and expert husbandry," zoo veterinarian Dr. Jimmy Johnson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"We’re lucky to have had him with us for such a long time."

And here's another side effect of the new boots - Enrique's new kicks have made him into an internet sensation. A Facebook post showcasing his fancy footwear has gone viral, racking up more than 9,000 likes and 30,000 shares to date.

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