Courtesy of The Maryland Zoo
Andrea Romano
October 01, 2018

Sometimes a vet has to improvise to help an animal in need.

According to the Associated Press, veterinarians at The Maryland Zoo worked diligently to help a wild eastern box turtle who cracked the underside of its shell. Unfortunately, after the surgery, the doctors were plagued with the task of how to keep the turtle from injuring itself even further during the healing process.

The zoo’s website wrote in detail that the surgery, performed back in July, left the turtle with metal bone plates, sewing clasps and surgical wire to temporarily hold its shell back together.

Zoo veterinary extern (fourth-year veterinary student) Garrett Fraess said in a release on the zoo’s website, “It was important to keep the bottom of the shell off the ground so it could heal properly.”

Since there are no turtle-sized wheelchairs or crutches out there, Fraess turned to a friend who happened to be a Lego expert for help.

Courtesy of The Maryland Zoo

The chair has a box-shaped frame and uses tiny wheels to lift the turtle slightly off the ground, supporting its body and legs so it can still move around. Plumber’s putty was also added to attach the chair to the edges of the turtle’s upper shell so he could move freely and keep it in place without receiving further damage.

Courtesy of The Maryland Zoo

Dr. Ellen Bronson, senior director of animal health, conservation, and research at the Maryland Zoo said on the zoo’s website that the little turtle will wear the device until all of its shell fragments completely fuse back together again, hopefully by the spring.

The zoo has plenty of easter box turtles to see in its Wilderness Area. For more information, visit the Maryland Zoo website.

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