Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mutilated Tucan Given New Beak

A Brazilian toucan named Tieta lost her upper beak while caught in the obscene meat-grinder that is international wildlife trafficking. Black-beaked toucans like Teita cost up to $5000 when sold illegally. They are native to Rio, but are not considered endangered. She was resuced from an animal fair in Rio de Janeiro.  Teita's life was immeasurablely improved when a wildlife group and university researchers gave Teita a prothestic upper beak made of plastic and created using a 3-D printer. It weighs only 4 grams. The design was taken from a dead bird and adapted to Teita's morphology. Teita can now eat her favorite live maggots and cockroaches normally. Before her new beak she used her lower bill to throw food in the air and grab it, succeeding once in every three attempts. It took her three days to understand she had a functioning bill again. She can groom herself and feed chicks she might produce in the future. Despite the new bill's success Teita will never be released to the wild. Ibama, Brazil's wildlife authority, wants to send Teita to an educational zoo to help humans understand the damage done by animal traffickers. There is hope Teita will mate with a rescued male toucan who also has a beak problem; their offspring would be released to the wild, Ibama says.