LEGO Wheelchair Gives Injured Turtle at Maryland Zoo a Second Chance

Courtesy of Maryland Zoo
Courtesy of Maryland Zoo

An injured Eastern box turtle in Maryland has been given a new lease on life thanks to an inventive veterinarian who fashioned a wheelchair out of LEGO bricks and other odds and ends. The turtle was suffering from a fractured plastron (the underside of his shell) when he was picked up at Baltimore's Druid Hill Park and brought to The Maryland Zoo by an employee, CBS Baltimore reports.

Metal bone plates, surgical wire, and sewing clasps were surgically implanted to stabilize his shell, but one problem remained. In order to heal properly, he had to be lifted off the ground. "We were discussing in our medical rounds that he needed to be elevated off the ground and we were thinking of ways we could do that," Garret Fraess, a veterinary extern, says in a video created by The Maryland Zoo.

Fraess said it's unusual for the underside of a turtle's shell to be fractured because usually the back is the part that's most vulnerable. Since no ready-made shell repair kit was available, he had to think creatively. That's when he thought of LEGOs.

After swapping ideas with a "LEGO enthusiast" friend in Denmark, they settled on a blueprint for a wheelchair frame that surrounds the shell and rests on four LEGO wheels. The device has helped keep their reptile friend mobile, and he's responded remarkably well to the lifestyle change. He's now able to "turn on a dime" and "scoot like a normal turtle," Fraess says. Once he heals completely, they'll start removing the pieces bit by bit, but that could take up to a year. Until then, he'll receive the best treatment a turtle can possibly get at the Baltimore zoo.

[h/t CBS Baltimore]

12 Perfectly Spooky Halloween Decorations Under $25

Amazon/shopDisney
Amazon/shopDisney

Halloween is right around the corner—which means it’s officially time to bring out the jack-o'-lanterns, watch scary movies, buy your costume(s), and hang up your festive decorations. Although there are thousands of decorations to choose from, you don’t have to blow your budget while decking out your house or apartment in honor of the spooky season this year. With a little guidance, you'll find plenty of ways to create the perfect ambiance at home without going for broke. (And best of all, you can put the money you saved toward extra Halloween candy to stash away.)

From giant spiders to hanging ghosts and lawn decorations, here are a few of our favorite props under $25.

1. Halloween Pillow Covers (4-Pack); $17

ZJHAI/Amazon

These adorable Halloween-themed pillowcases make the perfect accessory for any couch, sofa, or mattress. Made with thick linen fabric, these are durable, sturdy, and designed to last for seasons to come. (Tip: To prevent the zipper from breaking, fold the pillow in half before inserting.)

Buy it: Amazon

2. Black Lace Spiderweb Fireplace Mantle; $12

Aerwo/Amazon

This versatile spiderweb prop is made with 100-percent polyester, and its knit lace spiderweb pattern adds a spooky touch to any home. Display it on your doorway, across your fireplace mantel, or atop your table. (It also makes a great backdrop for Halloween photo ops.)

Buy it: Amazon

3. Statement Halloween Signs; $16

Dazonge/Amazon

These festive, statement-making banners come pre-assembled, making them incredibly easy to install. They’re also weather-resistant and washable for both outdoor and indoor use. Use tape, push-pins, or weights to prevent the signs from blowing away.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Jack Skellington and Sally Plush Dolls; $23 (Each)

Disney

Celebrate your favorite holiday with a pair of adorable Jack Skellington and Sally plush dolls from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack stands at 28 inches tall, while Sally is a bit shorter at 21 inches. Set them up on your sofa or against the window sill for all to see.

Buy them: Disney Shop (Jack and Sally)

5. Halloween Zombie Groundbreaker; $22

Joyin/Amazon

This spooktacular zombie lawn decoration is sure to scare all of your friends, family, and neighbors alike. Made with a combination of latex, plastic, and fabric, this durable Halloween prop is sure to last for years to come.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Hanging Ghost Decoration; $14

Moon Boat/Amazon

Drape this handmade, 14-foot-long hanging ghost decoration over your porch, doorway, or window. You can also hang it outdoors over a tree or a (very tall) bush. And, since it comes pre-assembled, you won’t have to waste time constructing it yourself.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Two-Piece Hanging Ghost Set; $17

GeeFuun/Amazon

This pair of ghosts adds a whimsical touch to any home. While they’re not “scary,” per se, they certainly are adorable. Display them in your front yard, on your porch, on a lamppost, or a tree. To hang, simply tie the ribbons and bend the wires, arms, and tails.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Pumpkin String Lights; $19

Eurus Home/Amazon

Not only are these solar-powered, 33-foot-long LED string lights good for the environment, they’re also incredibly easy to install (no long, tangly power cable chords necessary). Since they’re waterproof, you can use them both indoors and outdoors. Choose from eight different light settings, including twinkling, flashing, fading, and more.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Inflatable Ghost; $22

Joiedomi/Amazon

This adorable inflatable ghost (which dons a cute-as-can-be wizard hat!) features built-in LED lights and sandbags to help it stay sturdy. It also comes complete with a plug, extended cords, ground stakes, and fastened ropes. Simply plug it in and watch it magically inflate within just a few minutes.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Graveyard Tombstones; $17

meiguisha/Amazon

Turn your front lawn into a graveyard with this six-piece set. Each tombstone is made with foam and designed to add a touch of spookiness to your space. To install, insert one holder into the bottom of the tombstone, and one into the soil. You can use these indoors, as well.

Buy it: Amazon

11. 10-Piece Skeleton Set; $24

Fun Little Toys/Amazon

This skeleton set includes a skull, hands and arms, and legs and feet—plus five stakes to hold everything in place. Each “bone” and “joint” is flexible, allowing you to prop the skeleton into different frighteningly fun poses. Simply place the stakes into the bone socket and turn clockwise.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Outdoor Spider Web; $18

amenon/Amazon

This giant, ultra-stretchy spider web spans a whopping 23 feet. It also includes a 30-inch black spider, 20 pieces of fake spiders, one hook, and one nail. Its thick polyester rope—combined with the sturdy stakes—allows the spider web to stay in place all season long. Place the hook on a wall or tree, and expand the web using the stakes.

Buy it: Amazon

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Drop Everything! Fat Bear Week Has Arrived in Alaska’s Katmai National Park

Lefty, last year's Fat Bear Week runner-up.
Lefty, last year's Fat Bear Week runner-up.
Katmai National Park, Flickr // Public Domain

Each autumn, Katmai National Park in Alaska celebrates ursine obesity in the best way possible: by holding a week-long competition to determine which bear is the fattest.

Since park rangers can’t exactly ask a wild brown bear to stand on a scale, it’s less about how much the bears might weigh and more about how much larger they’ve gotten since the spring. According to explore.org, which hosts the online event, the bears will drop about one-third of their body weight while hibernating over the long winter. In order to survive those months without any food or water, they spend the summer scarfing down all the salmon (and other sustenance) they can get their paws on. By early October, they’re gloriously corpulent—and it’s up to you to decide which one deserves to be the champion of this year’s Fat Bear Week.

Every day between now and October 6, Katmai National Park will post one or two new bear-vs.-bear matchups—the first at 12 p.m. EDT and the second at 4 p.m. EDT—and ask the public to vote for the bear they want to see advance to the next round of the single-elimination tournament. Each entry includes a photo of the bear from June or July and another from the last few weeks, so you can easily see how much they’ve ballooned.

You can learn about the bears on the “Meet the Bears of Fat Bear Week” page, and you can also try to spot them for yourself on explore.org’s livestreams. Once you’ve chosen your favorite, you can see which competitor they might face next on the bracket. Last year’s winner, Holly, is defending her title, but she might have a conflict of interest—this year, her cub is competing, too. If Holly wins her next round, and her cub wins her next two rounds, mother and daughter could battle it out in the semifinals on Monday, October 5.