This is the story of the Brazilian toucan that lost half of its beak and has now recovered it thanks to a 3D printed prosthesis.
The toucan is called Tieta and it is a female, named after its rescuers, it was rescued from a fair in Rio de Janeiro after being in the hands of smugglers. There are conflicting reports on how Tieta lost part of her upper beak, but it may have been caused by mistreatment by smugglers or an attack by a larger bird during transport.
The injury has left Tieta with trouble eating and defenseless, at the mercy of predators.
A project involving three universities succeeded in developing the necessary technology to scan, build and 3D print the missing part of Tieta’s beak, made of plastic and sealed with a special polymer from the castor oil plant. In total, the new beak only weighs 4 grams.
Tieta had her new peak placed on July 27 with a 40-minute surgery, and while it was all a success, it took her a while to get used to her new peak. It took her 3 days to realize that she had her full peak again.
Unfortunately, not even this innovative prosthesis will allow her to be released back into the wild, experts believe that she would be unable to live independently. But there is a happy ending for Tieta: The new beak will allow her to feed independently, and feed any chicks she may have in the future.
And the fact is that 3D technology is also helping people and animals as we could never have imagined before.
Images: facebook.com/institutovidalivre / bbc.com