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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.

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To The Rescue

Toucan (credit: Wiki-commons)

Teenagers can often be 'out of control' with raging hormones, feeling socially awkward, subject to peer pressure and brains not fully developed 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. For toucans, their 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 wide coverage by the BBC. Luckily, the injured bird was rescued and sent to Rescate Animal Zoo, a hospital 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 support in unique ways. An international crowd-sourcing campaign raised funds to help cover costs for the bird's rehab, to construct an artificial bill, and support ongoing operations. Two new approaches were employed by the clinic's staff for a longer term recovery. A video shows how cutting-edge 3D Printing was used for the construction of an artificial prosthetic beak. The prosthesis was attached that allowed the toucan to eat properly again. The restored bird could not be released back to its rainforest habitat but was placed in a captive breeding program to increase wild populations with any future offspring.

The injured toucan is a 'poster child' for the need to provide better education in environmental responsibility. Costa Rica, like many 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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