Gigi the macaw was rescued from captivity in São Paulo, Brazil, but already had a deformed beak. Thankfully, it has now been replaced with the first-ever 3-D-printed titanium prosthetic beak. Veterinary surgeon Roberto Fecchio, 3-D expert designer Cicero Moraes and veterinary dentist Paul Miamoto from Animal Care Center Ipiranga took on the challenge to provide Gigi with a prosthetic beak, according to AOL. However, the experts realized that a plastic beak would not be useful because plastic cannot sustain the strength needed by macaws, which are primarily used to pounding on the food they eat. Hence, the team decided to try titanium for the bird's prosthetic, a material that is already commonly used in human prosthetics.
The veterinary team took a series of photographs of Gigi and used them to create a 3-D model of a beak, which was then 3-D printed in titanium by specialists at the Renato Archer Technology and Information Center (CTI), according to 3DPrint.com.
Gigi underwent surgery Feb. 18 to have the titanium beak attached. She has been in recovery ever since, according to the Center for Research and Screening of Wild Animals, an organization that is now spreading the story of Gigi in order to bring attention to the increasing activities of illegal exotic animal trafficking, added 3DPrint.com.
Caretakers are hoping that as soon as Gigi fully recovers from the surgery, a zoo will be interested in taking her in. As she has been held captive her entire life, she has not developed the skills to survive in the wild, therefore making the zoo life her best option.
Moraes, one of the experts who handled Gigi's case, shared the pictures below of her and the surgery via Facebook.