Lego ‘Wheelchair’ Designed By Maryland Zoo’s Vet Team To Help Heal Box Turtle

Close-up photo of box turtle in grass.
allyartist / Pixabay

It gives “turtle power” a whole new meaning. An injured wild box turtle was lucky enough to be recently found just outside the Maryland Zoo by a zoo employee, People reported Thursday. The Eastern box turtle was apparently found at nearby Druid Hill Park, with extensive fractures to his shell that required immediate attention.

In order to allow the turtle’s shell to heal properly, the vet team at Maryland Zoo had to get creative. Apparently, the team carefully created a unique LEGO “wheelchair” for the poor guy, which is basically a shell-support on wheels. With the contraption carefully surrounding his healing shell, the turtle is able to scoot on wheels by using his front legs. Dr. Ellen Bronson, Maryland Zoo’s senior director of animal health, conservation, and research, described the situation in a statement released by the zoo.

“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 Bronson.

Another collaborator on the project, Maryland Zoo veterinary extern Garret Fraess, gave more insight about the creative process for the turtle-wheelchair. Fraess says the vet team came up with sketches of a wheelchair prototype they believed would support the turtle’s healing shell. Then, they sent the sketches to a contact who apparently loves building with LEGOs.

The team’s LEGO enthusiast contact then created a workable version of the team’s sketches using LEGO blocks and a few other materials. Fraess gave a description of the final product, per People.

“The small LEGO® frame surrounds his shell and sits on four LEGO® wheels. 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 said.

UPI adds that Fraess claims the turtle adjusted easily to the device. Apparently, the turtle “never hesitated” and “took off” without a problem. It seems that the unique invention saved this turtle’s life. According to the vet team, the lucky turtle should be able to ditch his “wheelchair” by sometime next spring, assuming healing goes as planned. With the help of creative LEGO engineering skills and dedicated vets, this box turtle will make it through a life-threatening mishap. The turtle does not seem to have a reported name.

Twitter comments on the turtle were a mixture of jokes and support for the creative innovation that saved his life.

“Donatello? Michelangelo? Raphael? No… it’s Lego-nardo!” joked one Twitter user in response to the story.

“How much did it have to shell out for that?” commented another.

“People really are brilliant. Look what we can do with Lego! Let’s all get one with making happen. How much better would the world be, eh?”