Gamera, a 12-year-old African tortoise, which suffered a severe thermal injury and tissue damage from an unknown source on its left front leg, is now moving on its artificial limb, a swiveling wheel attached to his shell.

Abandoned by its owner, the tortoise was diagnosed by a veterinarian. After that, the tortoise, along with its ownership, was referred to Washington State University's (WSU) College of Veterinary Medicine for definitive care.

Two veterinarians named Dr. Courtney Watkins, a final year surgery resident, and Dr. Nickol Finch, head of WSU's Exotic Animal Service performed a surgery amputating the limb at the shoulder. As a precaution, they implanted a temporary feeding tube.

In order to help Gamera move after the surgery, doctors attached a small swiveling ball-type caster to its shell with an epoxy adhesive. According to doctors, the tortoise can now ambulate well on most surfaces like pavement, lawn and even bark.

Understandably, complicated amputations in tortoises are not common surgeries so we did not know how well he would eat afterwards. said Dr. Finch. The feeding tube just ensured we could keep his nutrition up.

The male reptile that weighed almost 20 pounds on admission, now weighs more than 23 pounds. Gamera has become a celebrity since the photos of its artificial limb were released on Wednesday.

The tortoise was named after a fictional giant and flying turtle from a popular series of Japanese giant monster films produced in 1965. The Daiei Motion Picture Company created Gamera to rival the success of Toho Studios' Godzilla films.

Tortoise, WSU CVM July 2011 from BCU @ WSU CVM on Vimeo.