Kentucky students design custom wheelchair-walker for disabled raccoon

GLENDALE, Ky. — Boone the Raccoon has a new ride and a group of high school engineering students to thank for the assist.

Diagnosed with a neurological condition that affects his coordination, Boone was welcomed by Nolin River Wildlife in Glendale, Kentucky, in 2020, but still had tremendous trouble getting around, WLKY reported.

Enter the student team from Central Hardin High School, and Boone is now the proud owner of a custom-built wheelchair-walker.

“Not only is (Boone) enjoying it, loving it and getting around in it ... but he’s getting stronger,” Nolin River Wildlife founder Mary Key, told the TV station.

How cool is this? Some local students created a device to help a racoon with disabilities get around!

Posted by WLKY News on Tuesday, April 13, 2021

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The sanctuary nurses injured and ailing animals back to health with the goal of releasing them back into the wild.

Key told The News-Enterprise that Boone’s cerebellar hypoplasia, most likely caused by a viral infection when his mother was pregnant, resulted in an intention tremor that prevented him from walking without assistance. Unfortunately, her research revealed that adaptive raccoon-sized wheelchairs typically cost about $500.

Instead, she turned to Russ Pike’s engineering class, and about one month ago the students completed the project following several in-class fittings and trials, the newspaper reported.

“I think you can see it in (Boone’s) face. He’s really engaged and enjoying it,” Key told The News-Enterprise. “He’s been the best thing that ever happened to us.”

Boone, who now has his own private enclosure and has become a de facto ambassador for the wildlife sanctuary, shares the refuge with baby foxes, some baby squirrels, an opossum and a “variety of other creatures that find their way there,” the newspaper reported.

Click here to see photos of Boone’s new ride, and here to learn more about Nolin River Wildlife.

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