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Sulcata Tortoise Run Over By Car Gets 3-D Printed Shell

George the sulcata tortoise will need a new prosthetic shell every three years as he grows.

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A sulcata tortoise (Geochelone [Centrochelys] sulcata) hit by a car in Florida was outfitted with a prosthetic shell from a 3D printer, but will need constant care and replacement shells as he grows. George got out of Dr. Lenard Hughes’ yard after Hurricane Irma knocked down a heavy metal gate. Hughes searched for the reptile, posting flyers around the neighborhood and letting people know via the Facebook group Loxahatchee Lost and Found Pets that his tortoise was missing. 

Update on George George is much happier now that he is back in familiar territory. He only will eat at home and enjoys…

Posted by Lenard M. Hughes on Friday, September 29, 2017

A neighbor spotted George walking down the street near Hughes' home and had just got out of her car to retrieve him when another car ran the tortoise over. The driver did not stop. 


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Hughes told the Palm Beach Post when he saw the injured tortoise, he became kind of sick seeing the damage to George’s shell, but his medical training took over and he began dressing the wounds and searched for a veterinarian. 

Hughes finally called Dr. Susan Kelleher of Broward Avian and Exotics Animal Hospital in Deerfield Beach. Kelleher, who also has a Nat Geo Wild Show, “Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER, operated on George and contacted the South Florida Science Center, which constructed a 3D shell to protect the tortoise’s internal organs.


Hughes, an animal lover and pediatric surgeon at Palm Beach Children's Hospital, launched a GoFundMe Page to help pay for George’s treatment.

“George is a 4-year-old sulcata tortoise that got out of my yard during Hurricane Irma because one of my very heavy metal gates was knocked down,” Lenard wrote on George’s GoFundMe Page. “He was missing for 3 days even though we searched everywhere around my home. On the 3 third day, a neighbor spotted him walking down the street about 3 houses away from where he lives. The caring neighbor was stopping to pick him up and return him home , when a woman driving an smaller car ran over this animal. She never slowed down or stopped.”

This photo was taken today during his dressing change at home. Afterwards he took a nice long walk and ate some tortoise chow and grapes. He seems to feel so much better with his wounds bandaged.

Posted by Lenard M. Hughes on Saturday, September 23, 2017

“I took George immediately to a vet who said this was beyond her scope but referred me to Dr. Kelleher in Deerfield Beach. He was given pain medicine initially and taken to surgery the following. George has lost a large amount of his shell which was fractured in many pieces, his lung was injured and bubbles were seen coming from his back and his spinal cord was exposed. He survived the surgery and is now being fitted for a prosthetic shell using a 3D printer. His vet bills are mounting. George is a strong animal and has a good chance of survival. I would appreciate any contributions to help pay for his vet bills. He is a very friendly animal, very curious about the world around him and a wonderful pet. George deserves everything we can provide for him. If he survives this, his prosthetic shell will need to be replaced every 3 years while he is growing.”

Hughes, a reptile lover who got his first snake when he was 6 months old, told the Palm Beach Post that he has been caring for George since the chelonian was “about as big as a 50-cent piece.”


If you wish to donate to help George recover, you can do so at Injured Sulcata Tortoise on GoFundMe.com

Good luck George, the reptile community is pulling for you!