Toucan Given 3D-Printed Beak, Sparks Anti-Cruelty Crusade

Bird survives having most of its upper beak cut off by callous humans—galvanizing Costa Ricans to push for anti-abuse legislation.


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A wild toucan whose upper beak was cut almost completely off by human attackers has survived thanks to compassionate caretakers at Costa Rica’s Rescate Animal Zoo Ave. Not only have the caretakers rehabilitated Grecia over the course of more than a year at the sanctuary, but they’ve coordinated a successful effort to get the bird a prosthetic beak. Working for free, a 3D printing company built the beak and dental experts fitted it onto Grecia’s stump with epoxy and a pin that allows part of the beak to be easily removed for cleaning. Grecia’s plight has garnered international attention, including an Animal Planet documentary called Toucan Nation that tells the story of the mutilated bird’s year-long fight for survival. Grecia’s plight has also catalyzed a popular movement in Costa Rica to pass laws requiring stiffer punishments for perpetrators of animal abuse. “What happened to Grecia was terrible,” Ronald Sibaja, one of Grecia’s ZooAve caretakers, said, “but it brought awareness of animal abuse in our country.”

Photo courtesy of Carrie Kahn/NPR