ADORABLE NEWS ALERT. Repeat, adorable news. Get it while it’s hot.
Yes, the news cycle at the moment might be awful. But hopefully this little turtle at Maryland Zoo will brighten your day, just for a bit.
An injured wild Eastern box turtle was brought to the zoo in July, with the underside of its shell severely fractured. Owing to the nature of its injury, vets at the zoo were unsure of how to help the turtle heal, while also allowing it to still move around.
“He had multiple fractures on his plastron, the bottom part of his shell,” Dr Ellen Bronson, senior director of animal health, conservation, and research at the zoo, said in a statement. “Because of the unique placement of the fractures, we faced a difficult challenge with maintaining the turtle’s mobility while allowing him to heal properly.”
The issue was that they needed to keep the bottom of the shell off the ground, so it could heal. And the team decided the best option, of course, was to build a turtle-sized wheelchair, because animal wheelchairs are just the best. So they drew up some sketches, and sent them to a LEGO enthusiast with some ideas for how they could do it.
The result a few weeks later was a rather wonderful device made of LEGO bricks. It uses a system of metal bone plates, sewing clasps, and surgical wire that hold the fragments of the turtle’s shell together.
With supports and four wheels attached to the shell by putty, the turtle – about the size of a grapefruit – can now move around easily with his legs while his shell repairs itself.
“Turtles heal much slower than mammals and birds, since their metabolism is slower,” Dr Bronson said. “So, this turtle will likely use his LEGO wheelchair through the winter and into the spring until all of the fragments have fused together and the shell has completely healed.”
A spokesperson for Maryland Zoo told IFLScience the turtle hadn’t been given a name, as the team are hoping to return it to the wild. But that doesn’t make it any less adorable. Aww. Look at him go.
This turtle has been tagged since 2000, meaning he’s at least 18 years old. And with the recovery period looking like it’s going smoothly, he should have plenty more happy days ahead of him. Good on you, buddy.