In July 2018, a little box turtle was brought to the Maryland Zoo after an employee found him injured in a park. When he arrived, he was in bad shape. Not only did he have a severely fractured shell that required surgery, but he also needed some kind of structure to help him rehabilitate.
Garrett Fraess, one of the zoo’s veterinary externs, explained that they needed to find a way to keep his lower half off the ground or he wouldn’t heal. Since turtle wheelchairs aren’t exactly common, the rescue team had to come up with a custom design — which a Lego master ended up building for them!
The turtle, whom they quickly named LEGO Turtle, had no problem with his new mode of transportation! In fact, once the makeshift wheelchair was attached, the little guy took off running (well, the turtle version of running anyway) using his two front legs.
Garrett said the team was thrilled! After about a year, LEGO Turtle’s shell had healed enough that his rescuers removed the innovative device and began preparing him for the wild.
At that point, director Dr. Ellen Bronson said, “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.”
After two total years in their care, LEGO Turtle was finally ready to be released back into the wild! Box turtles are “a declining species,” so the zoo gave him a monitor to track his progress as part of their nearly 25-year conservation project.
“It was a joy for our veterinary team to watch him return to his native habitat today,” Ellen added.
What an amazing recovery! We’re so glad LEGO Turtle’s caretakers were able to create just what he needed so he could go free.
See him return to the wild in the video below, and be sure to share this story with your friends.
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