When a turtle cracked its shell, veterinarians improvised a solution with the help of some good old-fashioned Legos.
The scene is thus: A wild eastern box turtle in Maryland cracked the underside of its shell. How? Who knows. Turtle shells can heal with time, but it’s a very slow process, and the turtles are especially vulnerable while the healing process is taking place.
A Maryland Zoo employee found the turtle and brought him in for treatment.
First, the doctors performed surgery on the turtle’s shell. They sewed clasps and surgical wire to hold the shell back together.
But they were worried that this turtle would injure itself even further as the shell healed.
“It was important to keep the bottom of the shell off the ground so it could heal properly,” zoo veterinary extern Garrett Fraess said.
To allow the turtle to move around freely, the doctors wanted to equip him with some type of wheelchair or walking device. But turtle wheelchairs don’t exist, sadly. So, they had to get creative.
Garrett called a Lego expert for help, and the world’s first Lego wheelchair for turtles was born.
The chair has a box-shaped frame, and it uses tiny wheels to lift the turtle off the ground and support it while it walks.
The turtle hibernated during the winter; when he woke up, the doctors checked his progress and re-fitted him with the wheelchair.
Though he’s pretty small, the turtle is at least 18 years old.
“We are very happy that he is recovering well from his injuries and we plan to return him to the wild once he is fully healed,” said Dr. Ellen Bronson, senior director of animal health, conservation, and research at the Zoo.
Good job, vets!