This was one toucan from Costa Rica that lost half a beak when it was beaten by local teenagers. They ran away and left it to die, but the bird was located and rescued by a Costa Rica animal rescue center, Rescate Animal ZooAve, in 2014.
As toucans are dependent on their beaks in order to preen their bodies and control body temperature, self-defense, as well as mating rituals, the loss of the beak was a setback. Toucans are dependent on their beaks and cannot survive without them. Hence, many birds can even be euthanized instead of going back to the forest without beaks.
Caretaker Ronald Sibaja said "She was really bad off," recalling that when the toucan had been brought in, it just had a top beak that was a "bloody stump."
The animal center workers thought at first that Grecia would die without a beak. But the bird, which was named after the forest, got a prosthetic beak to replace the one it lost.
The scientists, including workers, doctors and engineers coordinated with the animal center and Rock Hill company 3D Systems. They created its prosthetic beak, so that it could replace the lost parts. Made of nylon, the beak was built in two parts. While the upper part was stuck to the toucan's stump, the longer part was attached by a pin that could be removed for cleaning regularly. It enabled the toucan to eat properly.
The bird with its artificial beak was put up for the public at ZooAve, just 30 minutes from Costa Rica's capital.
Grecia's abuse story has actually moved Costa Ricans and activists. They are demanding a bill for animal rights and are taking out strikes and rallies for a signature campaign. Rallies in support of an anti-abuse bill and signatures to get the bill passed into law have been on the move.
"What happened to Grecia was terrible," Sibaja said. "But it brought awareness of animal abuse in our country."
An Animal Planet special feature titled "Toucan Nation" by filmmaker Paula Heredia is being brought out.