LEGO bricks are an extremely versatile modular tool for building all kinds of things, from sculptures to working farm machinery. Now, it's also making life easier for one injured turtle with a fractured shell, thanks to a mini-wheelchair built out of LEGO.
The turtle is one of the 132 wild turtles that's currently being monitored by the zoo as part of a conservation project and was taken to the zoo's hospital, where veterinarians performed surgery on the creature, using metal bone plates, sewing clasps and surgical wire to hold its shattered bottom shell (plastron) together. To ensure that it properly healed, the turtle needed to keep his shell off the ground, prompting the team to come up with this ingenious solution.
As veterinary exterm Garrett Fraess explains:
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.
The LEGO-based contraption features a frame that surrounds and stabilizes the turtle's shell, in addition to wheels that facilitates ease of movement for the turtle. Says Fraess:
He took off and has been doing great. Turtles are really good at healing as long as the shell remains stable.
The device is temporarily attached to the shell with plumber's putty, and will be taken off in the spring, once the turtle has made a full recovery and is returned back to the wild. To find out more, visit the Maryland Zoo and on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.