Reptiles

Scottsdale-based alligator with prosthetic tail dies

Famous Mr. Stubbs made news headlines due to his unique tail

Posted 8/3/22

The Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary, based in Scottsdale, has announced the death of Mr. Stubbs, an alligator who lived with a prosthetic tail.

Mr. Stubbs reportedly died on Aug. 2, the …

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Reptiles

Scottsdale-based alligator with prosthetic tail dies

Famous Mr. Stubbs made news headlines due to his unique tail

Posted

The Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary, based in Scottsdale, has announced the death of Mr. Stubbs, an alligator who lived with a prosthetic tail.

Mr. Stubbs reportedly died on Aug. 2, the Sanctuary said, after what is believed to be a scorpion sting caused him to be unable to come up for air in a body of water.

“Yesterday our sweet Mr. Stubbs left us to meet Steve Irwin in the great alligator beyond,” the Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary announced on its social media channels Aug. 3. “We suspect a scorpion sting in the water and he was unable to come up for air.”

Mr. Stubbs was the subject of many news articles, according to the Sanctuary, as he was believed to be the only alligator in the world with a prosthetic tail, which was made possible by the CORE Institute and Midwestern University.

“We are so grateful for all of the people we have met through this partnership. Thank you to everyone who enjoyed Mr. Stubbs as much as we did,” the Sanctuary said in its post. “He was always a little grumpy but his fiery spirit will be missed by many.”

Mr. Stubbs (Photo courtesy Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary)

A 2013 article in the Independent archives reports Mr. Stubbs was missing his tail when he came to PHS, likely losing it to the bite of another gator.

Without a tail, alligators are in danger of drowning. Russ Johnson, president of PHS at the time, said in the Independent article that Mr. Stubbs would get stuck on his back and not be able to right himself.

“We had to teach him to swim by dog paddling, like you teach a child to swim,” Johnson was quoted as saying.

Mr. Stubbs’ prosthetic tail took over a year to develop to order to create one that was the right size and weight to restore normal posture and movement while walking and balance in the water.

Researchers at Midwestern University and the team at the CORE Institute worked together to find a solution for Mr. Stubbs. The prosthesis was covered in Dragon Skin, a lightweight, flexible silicone material often used for special effects and animatronics in films, as well as prosthetics.

The final step was creating a harness system to securely affix the new prosthetic tail to the alligator’s body, without creating any pressure points that could cause discomfort or skin breakdown over time.

Mr. Stubbs has lived at PHS since 2005. 

The Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is a statewide facility that includes a surrender facility, education program, summer camps and rescue and rehabilitation. They take unwanted or rescued reptiles.

Mr. Stubbs, Phoenix Herp, Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary,

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