“Slow little creatures”, this is the usual stereotypical quirk of turtles. These reptiles can be seen on the land or in the water gracefully stroking their webbed feet or flippers through the oceans or freshwater lagoons.
Usually resembling a hand grenade, we can easily distinguish a turtle because of its shell case that is very important for them to live and protect themselves from predators. Turtle’s shell is not just a housing mechanism, it’s a bone structure divided into two parts: the carapace (upper part) and plastron (bottom part).
In July of this year, a wild Eastern box turtle suffered from a car accident and was found in the middle of the road in Baltimore by a zoo attendant of Maryland Zoo. The turtle had broken its plastron, which included bones from ribs to clavicles (collar bones).
Imagine breaking your collarbones through your ribs. That was really nasty, right?
The 18-year-old male box turtle was treated in the Maryland Zoo hospital, where veterinarians repaired its shattered shell for an hour. According to the zoo’s senior veterinarian Dr. Ellen Bronson, the turtle is afflicted with multiple fractures on the bottom part of its shell or plastron. The veterinary team used metal bone plates, sewing clasps, and surgical wire to support the fragile shell until its full recovery.
Right after the surgery, the perceived challenge is to maintain the shell bottom off the ground to protect its fractures during the healing process.
Good thing, a veterinary extern Garrett Fraess came up with a cool idea of using pieces of Legos as the turtle’s wheelchair. Together with the veterinary team, they drew sketches of the miniature wheelchair and sent it to his friend who is a Lego enthusiast.
In the video, the Lego frame surrounds his shell and sits atop the multi-colored wheelchair with four wheels.
The custom-made wheelchair helps the turtle retain its mobility. He also uses the strength of his front legs so he can move around freely. The box turtle is expected to heal in about a year, then will be released back into the wild.