This article appeared in the July 10, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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From Legos to bra clips, turtles get some creative assists

Sinclair Miller/Courtesy of the Maryland Zoo
Two years after arriving at the Maryland Zoo in need of extensive veterinary surgery and a customized Lego wheelchair, a wild Eastern box turtle was returned to its native habitat in Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park on July 1, 2020.
Noelle Swan
Deputy Daily Editor

Parents with young children likely know that Legos can be a lifesaver. But last week, the broader world got a glimpse of the magic of those tiny bricks when staff at the Maryland Zoo shared the heartwarming story of “Lego turtle.”

The male Eastern box turtle had spent two years in the care of veterinary staff at the zoo after an employee found him in the park with a badly broken shell. After surgery, staff realized he would need help moving around while waiting for his shell to heal. 

“They don’t make turtle wheelchairs,” Garrett Fraess told The Washington Post. A veterinary student at the time, Mr. Fraess reached out to a friend and Lego enthusiast in Denmark for help making one. That Lego wheelchair turned out to be a crucial component of this turtle’s healing, and he was released back into the wild last week.

Around the country and the world, veterinarians and wildlife workers are finding creative ways to assist injured turtles and are calling on the public for help. Motorists are encouraged to keep an eye out for injured turtles. Even if their shells are badly broken, they can likely be saved with assistance. And if you happen to have an old bra with hook and eye clasps, rehab facilities welcome donations for use in shell repairs.

This may seem like a lot of effort for one small creature, but with half of all turtle and tortoise species at risk of extinction, every life counts.

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This article appeared in the July 10, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 07/10 edition
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