(Photo: Instituto Vida Livre)
Tieta the Toucan was in the hands of an illegal animal seller in Rio de Janeiro. Last year, wildlife rescuers freed her and addressed a pressing health problem: half of her upper beak was gone. That's a big deal. Beaks not only help toucans eat, but also help them stay cool by dissipating excess heat.
So last July, 3d designers built her a plastic replacement. They tested their prototypes on taxidermy toucans, then coated their final design with a castor oil-based polymer. After fitting it on Tieta, she took 3 days to adapt to the prosthetic. Then she began eating normally. The BBC reports:
Tieta's surgery only took 40 minutes to perform but was not without risks, veterinarian Thiago Muniz says.
He explains that the prosthesis will allow her to eat independently and also help her access glands on her body that keep her feathers waterproof.
With the help of the prosthesis, Tieta will also be able to feed any chicks she might have in the future.
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