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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

The Conservation Alliance

To The Rescue

To The Rescue

Costa Rican toucan (credit: Wilikcommons)

Teenagers are often 'out of control' with raging hormones, socially awkward, subject to peer pressure, and brains not fully developed for them to think through consequences of their actions.

An abusive act by several kids in Costa Rica showed their immaturity and lack of compassion for a toucan, one of the country's most iconic birds. Using a stick to beat the defenseless avian, the teenagers broke off the upper portion of its colorful beak. In toucans the beak is used not only for eating purposes but also for defense, vocalizations, and potentially attracting a mate. The cruel act gained widespread attention after BBC coverage. Luckily, the injured bird was rescued and sent to the Rescate Animal Zoo, a center for wildlife rehabilitation in Costa Rica's capital, San Jose.


                                        Injured Toucan  (credit: BBC)

Besides the efforts of the center's vets, companies and individuals offered their support in unique ways. Two new approaches were employed by the staff for a longer term recovery. An international crowd-sourcing campaign raised funds to help pay for the birds rehab, to construct an artificial bill, and support ongoing operations. A video shows how cutting-edge 3D Printing was to be used for the construction of an artificial prosthetic beak. The prosthesis was attached and it allowed the toucan to properly eat once again. The restored bird could not be released back to its rainforest habitat but will be used in a captive breeding to increase wild populations from any future offspring.

The injured toucan is a 'poster child' for the need to provide better education in environmental responsibility. Costa Rica, like many other countries, lacks a law protecting animals from abuse so the teenagers were not charged. Perhaps they should have been assigned to perform service work at the rescue center to gain better understanding and more compassion for wildlife. WHB

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