3D-Printed Prosthetic Beak To Be Surgically Attached To Mutilated Costa Rican Toucan

A severely injured bird in Costa Rica who endured a brutal attack by a group of vandals is getting a second chance thanks to four companies who have volunteered to create a prosthetic beak for the bird, using 3D printing technology, in an effort to aid the Costa Rican toucan in once again eating on his own.

Currently, the bird is assisted with eating due to the “very small” volume of food he “manages to eat on his own,” according to the veterinarian who is looking after the toucan at the Zoo Ave rescue center, Carmen Soto.

Toucans use their beaks to not only eat, but to also regulate their body temperature.

In the United States, prosthetic beaks have been created for both an eagle as well as a penguin.

The Costa Rican companies who have volunteered themselves to help — Sommerus, Elementos 3d, Ewa!corps, Publicidad Web, and Grupo Sommerus — indicated that they possess the skills to create a prosthesis for the injured toucan, and that the feat will be accomplished with the use of 3D printers. BBC reports that this will be the first prosthesis of this kind in the region.

The injured bird, whose name is Grecia, was named after the area in which it was found. It was taken to an animal rescue center back in January and sparked outrage after pictures of its mutilated beak began to circulate. Since then, a campaign to provide the bird with its new 3D-printed beak has already raised thousands of dollars, the BBC reported.

Soto indicated that the toucan was recovering well since its attack.

Designer Nelson Martinez told newspaper La Nacion that he and his team had been studying the beaks of toucans in order to come up with a design for Grecia which would prove suitable. Currently, the team is working with a model which would have what he called “a fixed part and a moveable part,” which allow for the part to be cleaned and replaced as the toucan continues to grow.

Martinez also indicated that the use of adhesives with chemical components wouldn’t work “as it could compromise the structure of the beak.”

Ms. Soto indicated that the prosthesis would need to be lightweight and durable in order to ensure that it wouldn’t come off or be damaged.

A social media campaign for the bird received $3,000 in donations towards the bird’s recovery fund, the NY Post reported.

Laws governing animal cruelty are largely non-existent in South America, which makes prosecuting cases such as Grecia’s difficult. However, the executive director for the Humane Society International in Latin America, Cynthia Dent, said in an interview with the AFP that social media has begun to change that.

“In the past we would only hear about it when there was a case reported in the press (…) But now we have outraged people who take advantage of social media to highlight these cases of cruelty and join forces against them.”

Whether Grecia will accept the prosthetic beak is yet another unknown in the project, according to Karley Fu of Grupo Sommerus.

Are you glad these companies have banded together to give this bird a second chance at life?

[Image via Metro U.K.]