The LSU vet school gave a box turtle named Pedro another chance at a regular life by creating him a set of wheels out of LEGOs to replace his missing back legs.

When Pedro’s owner, Sandra Traylor, adopted him, he was only missing one back leg. However, when Pedro escaped his outdoor enclosure, he returned missing the other back leg. 

Traylor brought Pedro to the LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital where they found nothing medically wrong with Pedro except for his missing hind legs.

“Sometimes people have this idea that pets are just cats and dogs,” Traylor said. “It’s very strange to walk in with a turtle and sit next to a dog, but they were very good about it and they were very nice.”

Zoological medicine intern Kelly Rockwell saw that his wounds healed well and was still getting around, just not very fast. She began to think that maybe a prosthetic of some sort could help Pedro get around a little easier. 

Traylor and veterinary student Sarah Mercer came up with a way to help Pedro back up and running, and it all started with a kit of LEGOs.


(left to right) Zoological medicine intern Kelly Rockwell, veterinary student Sarah Mercer and owner Sandra Traylor look at Pedro as he uses his new wheels.

They created a set of wheels for Pedro that could easily be taken on and off for cleaning purposes. They attached the contraption to the underneath of Pedro’s shell using epoxy — the same glue used to attach horseshoes. Syringe cases were used to hold the axles together before cutting pieces down to size to fit Pedro.

Pedro’s owners said he adjusted well and has been nothing but successful with his new set of wheels. Mercer said that Pedro's case gave them a special opportunity to bask in the success of an innovative project.

“Vet school can be hard at times," Mercer said, "but sitting on the floor with my classmates and mentors all laughing in delight as we watched Pedro roll around for the first time — that was a moment of pure joy.”

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