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Lego wheelchair helps the Maryland Zoo injured turtle to heal, officials say

A “custom Lego wheelchair” was designed for a lucky wild Eastern box turtle who was seeking help after the injury and undergoing an operation for his shell, according to a press release from the Maryland Zoo.

(The Maryland Zoo)

A turtle in Maryland will get a lift from a one-of-a-kind ride.

A “custom Lego wheelchair” was designed for a lucky wild Eastern box turtle who was seeking help after the injury and undergoing an operation for his shell, according to a press release from the Maryland Zoo.

The injured animal was discovered by a zoo worker in the summer in Maryland Druid Hill Park and was taken to the zoo hospital, according to Dr. Ellen Bronson, senior director of animal health, conservation and research at the Zoo.

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“He had multiple fractures on his plastron, the bottom part of his shell. By the unique placement of the fractures we were faced with a difficult challenge with the preservation of the turtle’s mobility, and allowing him to heal properly,” Bronson explained.

The turtle underwent surgery to “stabilize” his shell, the press release said, and then the lower part had to be kept “out of the ground, so that it can heal you,” Garrett Fraess, a veterinary extern at the zoo, said.

“They don’t make turtle-sized wheelchairs. So we made a number of sketches of a custom wheelchair, and I sent them to a friend who is a LEGO enthusiast,” he said.

Garrett Fraess, a veterinary extern at the zoo, she said “the attention of a number of sketches of a custom wheelchair” before they get to “a LEGO-lover” friend of him.

(The Maryland Zoo)

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Weeks after the operation, the special wheelchair, complete with wheels and around the frame was ready, the press release said, adding that with the help of the plumber’s putty, the chair was linked “to the edges of the turtle’s upper shell, which gets him to the ground and let his legs free so that he can go.”

The turtle “never even hesitated,” once he was with his wheelchair, Fraess said.

(The Maryland Zoo)

And since then, the turtle has adapted seamlessly, Fraess said.

“He never even hesitated,” Fraess said. “He took off and is doing great. Turtles are really good at healing so long as the shell remains stable.”

The animal will probably still be around in his new wheels the following spring until he is fully healed, Bronson said.

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