Praise University’s Efforts to Rescue Neglected Tortoise

leopard tortoise

Target: Colorado Technical University student Roger Henry and IT team

Goal: Praise University IT team for developing a 3-D prosthesis shell that saved Cleopatra the Tortoise’s life.

Cleopatra, a “teenage” leopard tortoise, was given a custom-made 3-D prosthetic to reinforce her weakened shell with the help of Colorado Technical University and student Roger Henry. Cleopatra was suffering from “pyramiding,” which caused her shell to form rigid, bumpy spikes. Nico Novelli, owner of Canyon Critter Reptile Rescue, explained that pyramiding occurs in tortoises that are neglected and suffer from malnutrition.

Tortoises affected with this condition are unable to turn over if they are flipped upside down, are susceptible to bacteria and infection, and it lowers the amount of weight or pressure that the tortoise can handle on its shell. Tortoises naturally climb on top of one another, but tortoises with pyramiding cannot distribute the weight evenly on their backs like those with smooth shells.

Lanka Elson, the IT chair at CTU, said that Henry spent countless hours on the 3-D prosthetic project, which was intensive and required a considerable amount of training to achieve. Cleopatra’s new red 3-D printed shell, which is securely strapped onto her back with Velcro, is light and efficient enough for her to move freely. The shell will also allow her to interact with other tortoises normally and she is expected to live up to 80 years. Elson stated that Cleopatra will eventually need new 3-D shells as she continues to grow and that the university will be more than happy to provide them for her.

At the moment, Cleopatra is doing well under Novelli’s care and there are no signs of damage to her organs from her pyramiding condition. With more time, the condition will heal as long as she has access to proper nutrition and care. Please sign this petition to thank the IT team at Colorado Technological University for providing Cleopatra with a 3-D prosthetic shell that saved her life.


Dear Roger Henry,

I want to recognize your and the IT team’s efforts and success with customizing a 3-D prosthetic shell for Cleopatra, the neglected leopard tortoise. She most likely would not have survived if it weren’t for your determination to research and create a shell that fit her weakened shell perfectly. Now she will be able to enjoy life as a regular tortoise without the “pyramiding” condition holding her back. Hopefully, she can steadily recover over time. This wouldn’t be possible without your help. It is also incredibly generous of you and the Colorado Technological University to offer to produce more prosthetic shells for her as she continues to grow.

Although the university has no current plans to make 3-D printed prosthetics, the success with Cleopatra’s case opens more chances and opportunities for other injured animals. I hope you will keep using your talents to rescue more animals like Cleopatra in the future. Again, thank you for not only saving her life but also improving the quality of her life.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Berthold Werner via Wikipedia

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