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MLA Full: "Rescued Baby Toucan." YouTube, uploaded by Animal Wonders Montana, 16 November 2018,
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Meet Zeema the baby toucan. She's had a really rough life so far, but she's going to get all the help she needs from now on.


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Hi.  I'm Jessi and this is Zeema.  She's a young keel-billed toucan and she's only been with us for a couple weeks.  She's already been through a lot of trauma in her short life, but we're going to do everything we can to get her healthy and give her a happy life.

Zeema came to Animal Wonders from someone who got her in a trade and no longer wanted her.  We don't know her full past, but when she arrived, she was in really poor condition.  We immediately saw a few things that were wrong and very concerning.

Zeema's flight feathers had been cut off so she wasn't able to fly or keep herself warm.  You can see that her back area has exposed skin.  Having bare skin under their wings is normal for a lot of birds, but they should be able to protect the area by covering up with the feathers on their wings.  Zeema can't thermoregulate because she can't cover herself up completely.

She also had multiple scabs all over the skin on her face and a gouge on the side of her beak, you can see it right there.  Toucans have these huge beaks, but they're surprisingly light and fragile.  We couldn't tell what caused the injury but it didn't look life-threatening.

The biggest concern we had was this very large scab she has on the back of her leg.  As we got to see her move around, we noticed she couldn't put weight on that leg and she would often let it hang off of the perch, and lastly, her breathing was labored and we could hear a rasping and whistling with every breath she took, which meant she most likely had a respiratory infection.

If we wanted to help her, there was a lot to do.  First, we set Zeema up in a safe space that would be easy to keep warm and provide simple, easily manageable perching.  This is definitely not her permanent home.  It's way too small without enough places to sit.  Putting her in a large space with elevated perching might look nice,  but it would be way too dangerous for her in her current condition.  Her rehabilitation space has a radiant heat panel and a blanket covering the back to keep warm and prevent any cold drafts blowing in from the winter weather outside.  

After we got her safely set up, she had an exam by her avian vet.  Dr. Card confirmed that Zeema had a respiratory infection and the injury to her beak only damaged the outside and would heal in time, as would the rest of the scars on her face.  She examined Zeema's left leg and determined that it had broken previously, but the bone had calcified around the break so that it was now at least stable.

The reason Zeema was having trouble putting weight on it was becasue even though the broken bone was stable and no longer moving around, it wasn't aligned properly, and the large scab on the back of her leg here was still healing and was probably painful.   Dr. Card determined that the scab was caused by the sharp end of the broken bone poking through her skin from the inside out.  

I can't believe Zeema is so active and in such good spirits after everything she's been through.  Because the leg is stable at the moment, we have two options for her future.  One, we could leave it be and she'll just have to adjust with a limp and reduce movement and strength in that leg, or two, we can wait until she's settled in a bit more and healthy in all other ways and then re-break the leg and set it properly so that it heals correctly.

We don't have to make that decision just yet.  We have time to weigh the pros and cons and the risks involved in both situations.  So luckily, Zeema has a great appetite.  She's eating four times a day and moving around more and more confidently.  Toucans are frugivores, meaning they eat mostly fruit, but they'll also eat small animals to fill out their natural diet.  They're also sensitive to iron buildup, so they have a limited variety of fruits that are safe for them.

Zeema likes papaya and blueberries the most, but will also eat some soft banana after everything else is gone.  I haven't offered her a bug yet.  Let's see what she thinks of a mealworm.  What do you think?  She looked at me so confused.  She's like, um.  It's moving.  Look at her.  You can eat that if you want to.  One more try?  She's like, no. 

The most important part of her diet is her softbill pellets, which give her all the essential minerals and vitamins they need for a complete nutrition.  That's extremely difficult to provide with just fruit.  She eats her softbill pellets really well, so I have no concerns about her getting the proper nutrition.

While Zeema has been settling in and eating really good, her respiratory infection has progressed, so she's now on antibiotic and antifungal medications.  We're hoping she kicks the infection quickly and we can focus on growing new feathers, right?  

Toucans are beautiful birds and they're very endearing, but their care is really challenging.  Besides having an expensive and limited diet, because their food is mostly soft and juicy, their poop is also soft and juicy.  Like, seriously.  Super juicy.  Zeema has to be cleaned multiple times a day because of her leg injury and not being able to be housed in a larger space, but even in large space, their juicy poop splatters are a force to be reckoned with.  

You can absolutely fall in love with Zeema and toucans in general, but please know that toucans do not make easy pets.  She's very sweet right now, but she's going to grow up and she's going to have very strong opinions, and pretty soon, she won't be so sweet anymore, and that's okay, because it's completely normal.  She's not supposed to be my companion animal.  She's supposed to be who she is and it's my job to provide for her and give her a happy and healthy life.

We'll continue to work on helping Zeema get healthy and I'll give updates in the future.  If you want to make sure you don't miss anything, make sure you follow us on Instagram @AnimalWondersMontana, and if you'd like to meet the other animals we care for and go on a new animal adventure every week, don't forget to subscribe.  Thanks guys.