Alligator from Phoenix Herpetological Society gets a prosthetic tail

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

You expect to find alligators in states like Florida, Louisiana and Alabama, but there’s an alligator in Arizona with a unique story.

The alligator known as “Mr. Stubbs” came to the Phoenix Herpetological Society without a tail. He likely lost it to the bite of another gator. Losing a tail can be very tricky and dangerous for alligators. Without a tail, Mr. Stubbs could have drowned in his pond.

"When we first got him, if the water was too deep for him to touch the bottom, he would roll over onto his back and could not right himself," Russ Johnson, president of Phoenix Herpetological Society, said.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Critter Corner]

You hear of humans getting prosthetic legs after suffering from a disease or some type of trauma, but would you ever expect to see a prosthetic tail on an alligator?

Thanks to a team of researchers and doctors, Mr. Stubbs can move like a normal alligator now that he has a prosthetic tail. The tail took more than a year to develop.

Justin Georgi, Ph.D., an assistant professor of anatomy in the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University, heard about Mr. Stubbs' journey and wanted to help the reptile.  

He worked to determine the appropriate size tail for the alligator. Georgi and others then worked to create a tail that was the right size and weight in order to restore Mr. Stubbs' movement while he walks along with his balance in the water.

"After almost eight years, we need to 'unteach' him the dog paddle, so he can swim like a normal alligator,” Johnson said.

Mr. Stubbs still lives at the Phoenix Herpetological Society. 

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Kylee CruzArizona native Kylee Cruz joined CBS 5 News as a reporter in August 2014. You can catch her reporting every morning on CBS 5's "Wake Up Arizona!" and 3TV's "Good Morning! Arizona." She's also a fill-in weather anchor.

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Kylee Cruz

Before working in Phoenix, Kylee spent three years reporting for KXLY in Spokane, WA During her time in the Inland Northwest, Kylee reported on a wide variety of topics from winter snowstorms to summer wildfires, and regularly filled in on the anchor desk. Kylee grew up in Yuma and graduated summa cum laude from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. While in college, Kylee covered her first big story in Tucson when Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot. She was selected as the Cronkite School’s Outstanding Graduate and was even the university’s Homecoming Queen her senior year. Growing up, Kylee always knew she wanted to be a reporter. When she was just 6, her neighbor started calling her "Cub Reporter" because she asked so many questions. That curiosity has only grown over the years! When Kylee’s not reporting, she loves traveling, home decorating and trying out unique restaurants. She’s a bit of a foodie! Kylee’s always looking for a good story. If you have an idea, email her at

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