Injured turtle at The Maryland Zoo fitted with LEGO wheelchair
BALTIMORE (WBFF) -- An injured wild Eastern box turtle at The Maryland Zoo is getting some help thanks to LEGO bricks.
Zoo officials say the turtle was found in Druid Hill Park in July by a zoo employee, and was brought to the zoo's hospital for treatment.
“He had multiple fractures on his plastron, the bottom part of his shell. Because of the unique placement of the fractures, we faced a difficult challenge with maintaining the turtle’s mobility while allowing him to heal properly,” said Dr. Ellen Bronson, senior director of animal health, conservation, and research at the Zoo.
The Zoo’s veterinary team performed surgery to stabilize the turtle’s severely fractured shell. Metal bone plates, sewing clasps and surgical wire now hold the delicate shell fragments together.
Zoo officials say there aren’t devices small enough for turtles to use so they got creative and drew sketches of a customized wheelchair. The sketches were then sent to a friend, who is also a LEGO enthusiast.
“The sketches proved to be a success and the turtle received his very own multi-colored LEGO brick wheelchair just a few weeks after surgery. The turtle is roughly the size of a grapefruit. The small LEGO frame surrounds his shell and sits on four LEGO wheels,” said Garrett Fraess, veterinary extern at the zoo.
“Plumbers putty attaches the device to the edges of the turtle’s upper shell, which gets him off of the ground and allows his legs to be freed up so he can move.”
Fraess says the turtle has been doing great adapting to his wheelchair. “He took off and has been doing great. Turtles are really good at healing as long as the shell remains stable,” said Fraess.
Dr. Bronson says turtles heal much slower that mammals and birds so this turtle will likely have this wheelchair through the winter and into the spring.