Injured Turtle With Custom Lego Wheelchair Released Back Into the Wild After Healing on Wheels
"It was a joy for our veterinary team to watch him return to his native habitat today," Dr. Ellen Bronson said
The Lego turtle is headed home!
Since 2018, the Maryland Zoo has been looking after an injured wild Eastern box turtle that was discovered at nearby Druid Hill Park by a zoo employee. He was found with several fractures along the bottom of his shell that made it hard for him to move.
"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," Dr. Ellen Bronson, senior director of animal health, conservation and research at the zoo, said in a statement at the time.
The veterinarians at the zoo hospital came up with a creative solution to the unique fractures. Using metal bone plates, sewing clasps, and surgical wire, the vets were able to stabilize the turtle’s fragile, broken shell so it had a chance to heal.
Unfortunately, for everything to heal correctly, the turtle’s shell could not touch the ground, so the veterinary team worked up a solution with a friend who is a "LEGO enthusiast."
The LEGO lover came through, using the specs provided, they created a custom, colorful wheelchair that perfectly fit the grapefruit-sized turtle.
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"Turtles heal much slower than mammals and birds, since their metabolism is slower so, this turtle used his Lego wheelchair through the winter and into the spring of 2019 until all of the fragments were fused together and the shell was almost completely healed," Dr. Bronson told ABC affiliate WHAS 11.
"He needed additional time to fully heal, but we were able to take the wheelchair device off him," she added. "We kept him at the hospital and continued to monitor his progress, giving him ample exercise time to strengthen his legs in preparation for release."
Bronson said the turtle made "tremendous progress" due to the wheelchair and they were excited to see him return home.
"From his successful use of a Lego wheelchair as a mobility aid early in his recovery to now, he has been a unique zoo patient," Bronson told the outlet. "It was a joy for our veterinary team to watch him return to his native habitat today."