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Legos Wheels Helps Rehab Tortoise Found on Disney Property

January 27, 2016



After 165 days of rehabilitation, a gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) that was rescued on Disney property at Walt Disney World in Florida has been returned to the wild.

gopher tortoise

Disney Animal Kingdom

Wheels came into the hospital with a damaged carapace and a fractured pelvis.

The tortoise, named Wheels came into Disney’s hospital after he got hit by a car. Veterinarians with Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, discovered a fracture on his carapace and a pelvic fracture, making it nearly impossible for him to move about on his own. 

According to Leanne Blinco, zoological manager at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Lake, Fla., the hospital gets many tortoises that come in injured on Disney’s roadways and they have been able to save many of them. Wheels came in unable to use one of his back legs, so a set of Lego wheels complete with an axle were installed onto to his plastron to help him move about. 

The addition of the wheels on Wheels’ plastron was a success. About 165 days after he came into the hospital, he was released back onto Walt Disney World property after the wheels were removed, having done the job of stabilizing Wheels until he got movement back in his hind leg. The use of Legos wheels seems to be popular with veterinarians trying to help tortoises out. A German vet did just that with Blade, a juvenile spur thighed tortoise in January of last year. 

The gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is protected throughout its range either by state or federal law. They are known burrowers and can live more than 20 years. They are known to eat more than 1,000 species of plants in their range with 80 percent of their diet being grasses. 

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