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MLA Full: "Our Toucan Can Fly!" YouTube, uploaded by Animal Wonders Montana, 31 May 2019,
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Zeema the toucan is learning to fly! And we caught her first good attempt on camera! See how far she's come and join us in celebrating her recovery and progress.

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Hello and welcome back to Animal Wonders.  You might have noticed my voice is a little bit different today, and that's because I'm struggling with a sore throat.  Today, we're talking all about this beautiful bird.  Six months ago, we rescued a baby toucan who was in really pitiful condition.  Now, she had a broken leg, a serious respiratory infection, and all her wing feathers had been cut so short, she couldn't even keep herself warm.  We got her on a good diet and named her Zeema.   She received medication for her respiratory infection and we did our best to help her learn how to manage perching with her mended but malformed leg.

As she grew stronger, she had a ton of energy, but she had really poor balance due to her weak leg.  She'd hop from perch to perch and often fall and break her tail feathers, which then led to even worse balance.  At three months old, Zeema was supposed to be learning how to fly, but because her wing feathers had been cut short, she couldn't.

We helped her work out her energy by letting her flap her wings and pretend to fly as we held her up and ran her around the warm house.  Our goal was to keep her muscles strong so when she eventually molted out her cut feathers, she'd grow in new flight feathers and be ready to start practicing right away.

Now it seems like it's been a long time and I've been very impatient waiting for enough flight feathers to grow in so she could fly on her own, but it's finally happened.  Zeema flew and I caught it on video.  Check it out.  I've been training her to jump further and further from her perch to my arm and I was caught by surprise when she flapped her wings, so I asked again, just a little further back, and then once more, far enough that definitely had to flap to make the distance.

I'm so proud of this beautiful, resilient toucan.  She's come so far from when I first met her.  Zeema is still missing a few flight feathers that she'll be growing in over the next few months, and I'll keep working with her to help her regain confidence in her abilities, and as her wings fill out, she'll become a stronger and stronger flyer.

I want to see--what.  She almost got my nose.  Yeah, you wanna go do something?  I wanna see if she wants to fly right now.  Let's give her a chance.  You jump on there.  Good girl.  Do you want to come here?  I got blueberries.  Oh, good job!  Nicely done.  Alright, let's try a little further back.  Ready?  Got blueberries.  Wanna come and get it.  Whoo!  Nice one!  You did great.  Wanna go back there?  Yes.  

Now that she can fly at least short distances, the biggest change we've been able to make is that we've moved her perches higher off the ground.  Initially, we had to keep the perches really low because she'd fall off all the time and if they were too high, she'd hit the back of her broken leg on the hard floor, but over time, we've slowly raised them up as her abilities and activity levels increased.  Basically, as Zeema's learned how to manage her broken leg, she's been able to perch stronger and stronger and as her tail feathers have grown in and stayed, she can balance and she doesn't fall off as often.

Do you wanna go play in your house?  Come here, step up.  Good girl.  Ready, one more, aaand wanna go in there?  There you go.  Good girl.  I'm gonna hide your food around.  Ready?  Put some in there.  Ooh, gonna go get it?  Put some in there.

So moving the perches from here all the way up to here has been a big shift up and now she can get to her hanging circle perch all on her own.  She loves that circle perch so much and the only way she could sit on it before was--hi--if I brought her up to it and stayed close in case she lost her balance.  Now that she has a full tail, she can balance much better, and if she does fall, she can flap and soften the hard landing.  

She's not quite ready to be fully without protection, though.  We do put a towel down on the floor so when she falls, it also helps cushion the back of her previously broken leg.  The towel also comes in handy because it stops the full force of high level poop splatter.  Moving her perches up also means her liquid poo splashes three times as far and her favorite treat is blueberries, which means she's a blueberry jelly factory.

It's all worth it though.  Seeing her jumping and flapping from perch to perch, I'm just so proud of how far she's come.  It's been an absolute pleasure caring for Zeema and being able to give her the dedication she deserves, but her journey to health isn't over yet.  Zeema has had ongoing respiratory infections from the beginning.  Just when we think we've beat it and she's clear, another infection starts up and she goes back on a different antibiotic.  Due to her poor start, Zeema's immune system is weak, which makes her really susceptible to new bacterial growths.  

Our vet hopes that with age and ongoing proper care, her immune system will gradually gain strength.  I'm excited that Zeema is now well enough and the weather is good enough that we can get her outside in the fresh air and soak up the sunshine.  This should also help her immune system and hopefully she can finally kick the infections for good.

Oh, Zeema.  You are such a good girl.  Thank you for letting me care for you.  She got my mic.  And thank you for letting me share her journey with you.  If you'd like to help support our channel and our message of education and respect for all animals, you can go to and become a monthly Patron, and if you'd like to go on an animal adventure with us every week, don't forget to subscribe and hit that notification bell so you don't miss a thing.