If you ever get a chance to stop by the Maryland Zoo you may be confronted by an animal zooming by on Lego parts! That’s right, a turtle at the Maryland Zoo has been able to zoom around with his new wheelchair. So how exactly did a turtle get such a sweet pair of wheels? Well, you’ll be quite shocked when you find out the truth behind this turtle’s set of wheels.
20. Injured Turtle
One day, an employee at the Maryland Zoo was taking walk when they came across something odd. Quickly, they discovered an injured turtle at nearby Druid Hill Park. The turtle wasn’t looking too good either…
19. Not Looking Good
Things weren’t looking so good for the poor injured turtle. The zoo employee that discovered him knew that the turtle was in need of some treatment, fast! So they quickly brought the turtle over to the zoo.
18. Zoo Hospital
The employee brought the turtle straight to the zoo hospital. The hospital began to look over the turtle to see what injuries he had sustained. They quickly discovered that the turtle’s shell had been badly fractured.
The hospital staff knew that they would have to begin treatment immediately. So they started off by stabilizing the turtle’s badly fractured shell. They did this by using metal bone plates, sewing clasps and surgical wire to hold the shell together. However, there was still a problem…
16. A Problem
Since the fractures were on the bottom of the turtle’s shell and not on top, this posed a serious problem to the vets. It was going to be a real challenge keeping the turtle’s bottom half off the ground while also allowing him to move around. If the turtle moved around too much he would prevent himself from healing.
15. Healing Properly
“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.
14. Thinking Hard
The vets were in a serious predicament! They wanted to allow the turtle to move about while also allowing him to heal. However, they had no idea how to accomplish that. Then, someone came up with a creative solution!
13. Creative Solution
Soon enough, the team came up with quite a creative solution. They decided to place the turtle in a wheelchair! However, they don’t just make turtle wheelchairs, so where would they find one?!
12. Figuring Things Out
So what were the vets to do about this situation? Well, if a turtle wheelchair didn’t already exist then it would be up to them to create one! Everyone quickly got together to come up with a design for the turtle’s wheelchair.
“They don’t make turtle-sized wheelchairs. So, we drew some sketches of a customized wheelchair and I sent them to a friend who is a Lego enthusiast,” Garrett Fraess, a veterinary extern at the zoo, said in a statement. So the sketches were shipped off to his Lego expert friend, who lives in Denmark.
10. Creating Time
The LEGO® enthusiast was able to come through with an expertly crafted wheelchair. She took all of the designs into consideration and used some pieces from her own personal collection. Then the wheelchair was shipped over to the Maryland Zoo.
9. Lego Frame
The sketches explained that the vets were hoping for a small Lego frame that would surround the turtle’s shell. The frame would then be placed on top of four Lego wheels. When they received the wheelchair it was exactly as they envisioned it.
“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 explained.
7. Few Weeks
It would be a few weeks before the turtle would even be placed in the wheelchair. After all, he needed to recover from the surgery that took a lot out of him. Finally, it was time for him to be placed in the wheelchair and everyone was anxious to see how he would adjust!
As soon as the turtle was placed in the contraption he began to move around with ease! He easily adapted to it without any problems. Everyone at the zoo was so thrilled to see the sweet turtle zooming by without any trouble.
5. No Hesitation
“He never even hesitated,” said Fraess. “He took off and has been doing great. Turtles are really good at healing as long as the shell remains stable.”
4. Moving Around
This little turtle has now been moving around all throughout his space with ease. He has been moving around throughout both the outdoor and indoor exhibits. Everyone can see that this little turtle is happy to be able to move again.
3. Recovering Well
“This particular turtle was originally tagged in 2000, making him at least 18 years old,” said Dr. Ellen Bronson, senior director of animal health, conservation and research at the zoo. “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.”
2. Slow Healers
Not only do turtles move slowly, but they also happen to heal slowly. The zoo employees expect the turtle to use his wheelchair through the winter and into the spring. They hope that once the spring is over that the turtle will be completely healed.
1. Doing Better
For now, this sweet turtle is being watched over by the caring team at the Maryland Zoo. Once he is completely healed he’ll be back in the wild where he belongs!