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Jessi introduces Tika the white-cheeked turaco in an unscripted video. Tika is fully flighted, young, and fearless. And possibly a bit uncoordinated.

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Look, guys, we have a new friend! This is Tika the white-cheeked turaco and she just joined us about a month ago. Tika was a surplus zoo animal, which means she needed to find a permanent home. And, since we've cared for white-cheeked turacos in the past, we thought we could offer her a pretty good home at Animal Wonders. Today I wanted to do an unscripted show, just being present with her so we could talk about what she's doing and how she's communicating with me. By just hanging out with the animals I get to know them personally - that's not food - and it's how we establish a trust bond, and that's how we're able to do public presentations together. She's considered a softbill bird so I know that she's not going to crunch seeds and nuts, and my finger looks an awful lot like a papaya so she's testing it out.

Turacos were kind of considered a bit of a fragile species because they're prone to iron storage disease, which means that if they're fed foods that have too much iron in them they'll store it in their organs around their body, which leads to organ failure, eventually. Actually, pretty quick - just a few years and they can pass away from that. So these guys were considered fragile in the captive world and zoos until they figured out the iron storage disease issue. So, they're not necessarily fragile anymore but they're definitely a specialty animal that you need to know how to take care of them to be able to keep one healthy and happy.

I also know that these guys can get really skittish and flighty. Now, Tika is really young and so we've been working a lot on desensitization, which basically just means play with them a lot, handle with them, interact with them a lot, so they get really used to human interaction. So, we've been working on touching, which she's gotten really, really good at. And I would eventually like to be able to pull her wing up and out, and show it off because if you can see there, she has some beautiful red underneath. But she's telling me that, "Yeah, not so into that pulling of the wing out," so I'm just going to leave it at just a little bit of a nudge under there so we can work towards pulling it all the way out. That's what I'm saying - we're establishing a trust bond with each other, so that's just - I'm not going to push her too far. So Tika was done with me touching her and trying to move her wing out so she just turned around and faced away from me, which is just a very passive, subtle way of saying, "Leave me alone."

You can see that her tail is kind of shabby-looking right now, and that's just because she's super active and she's also not very - oh, how should I say it? - dainty. And so she just kind of runs around and crashes into things and she's broken some of her feathers. She just got in a lot of her more mature feathers. She went through her first malt and she got all these beautiful, shiny feathers in here. And she hasn't gotten her big tail feathers and her new set of tail feathers, so I'm looking forward to more coordinated Tika, so we can see those beautiful tail feathers.

Since we're in the very beginning of a relationship and pretty much we're her whole world at this point - she hasn't really gone out and discovered things on her own - we have to teach her everything that she needs to know. So right now we're working on a stepping up behavior - good girl! - so when I put my hand in front of her and move into her, she steps right onto my hand. Good girl! You need a treat, huh? We introduced toys to her a couple of weeks ago and she loves them! She loves playing with different things and just... that.

We're also thinking about how we're going to make a presentation work. Obviously, she can fly, she's fully flighted, she has those beautiful red feathers so I don't want to trim her, and these guys - they need those feathers to keep them balanced. So, we're training her with a harness. Let me go grab her. Good girl. Alright, she's back. I"m going to show her the harness so that she knows it's no big deal and we'll work on putting it on her, eventually. I'm a really big fan of getting to know the animals as individuals and I hope you enjoyed meeting Tika today. I had a lot of fun sharing her with you. If you guys would like to go on an adventure with us every week, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel, Animal Wonders Montana. And if you guys would like to see some fun animal moments, behind-the-scenes struggles and weirdness and just silliness, you can follow us on Snapchat, I'm under Jessikcas. Thanks for joining us today, and hope to see you there.


Wait, wait! I have one more thing to share with you. Have you noticed this calendar in the corner and wanted one of your own? Well, guess what? We have 2016 calendars coming out and they're amazing. We've already taken the pictures and are getting them all ready for you. If you would like one of your own, then you can go to our website, to the animal shop. The link is in the description below and you can pre-order yours. All of the proceeds go to the animals, and they are amazing pictures.