Toucan Beaten by Teens Gets High-Tech Replacement for His Shattered Bill

The bird's signature bill, an important feature for attracting mates and feeding, was repaired with the help of a 3-D printer.

Veterinarian Carmen Soto treats Grecia, a toucan that lost the upper half of its beak after being attacked by teenagers. (Photo: Ezquiel Becerra/Getty Images)

Feb 13, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

Grecia the toucan lost half his beak in January when a group of teenagers beat him with a wooden block. But thanks to social media and innovative technology, he’s about to get a new one.

The bird, who lived in the Costa Rican town of Grecia, was taken to a local vet after being attacked by “a gang of rowdy youths,” reported Agence France-Presse. (No word on whether the teenagers have been identified.) When the beating and images of the bird made headlines, four Costa Rican companies volunteered to design a 3-D-printed prosthesis. An Indiegogo campaign was started on Jan. 9 to fund the faux bill.

Toucans are known for their vibrant, 7.5-inch-long beaks. The birds use them to eat, scare off predators, and attract mates.

“Reproduction…seems unlikely, since the female [toucan] chooses her mates based on the color of their beak,” reads the Indiegogo campaign page. It has so far raised more than $7,000, plenty to cover the cost of a new beak. The rest will go toward completing the construction of Zooave Animal Rescue Center, which is taking care of Grecia.

According to The Costa Rica News, the toucan won’t be returning to the wild because of the seriousness of his injury. But the new beak will help him adapt to his new home more comfortably, where caretakers have been feeding him by hand.

The incident has added urgency to an animal cruelty bill presented by Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís back in December, which would increase fines and allow one- to six-year prison sentences for people who intentionally injure or kill animals.

“I want to take this opportunity to call on the different political fractions to come together…to punish this kind of behavior that is clearly unacceptable,” he said in a press conference. “These acts go against the respectful and peaceful society that characterizes Costa Rica.”

Veterinarian Carmen Soto told La Nación that she and her team have been refining the prosthetic model, but they’re not sure whether Grecia will take it.