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Zeema the toucan has recovered from her broken leg and multiple surgeries. Now it's time to make improvements to her enclosure and work on flight training!

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Thank you to Skillshare for supporting this episode of Animal Wonders.

The first thousand people who click the link in the description can get a free trial of Skillshare’s Premium Membership. Hi, everyone!

Welcome back to Animal Wonders. I’m Jessi, and this is Zeema the keel-billed toucan. Zeema is about two and a half years old, and she’s been through so much in her short life.

You can check out the videos in her playlist to see her whole journey with us from the beginning. I’ve put a link in the description. Due to abuse and neglect at a young age, Zeema has spent most of her time at Animal Wonders just working on recovering.

So, we’re all really looking forward to finally being able to just focus on giving her some fun! [CHEERY INTRO MUSIC]. Toucans are usually very active birds. They’re curious and enjoy a variety of perches, interacting with their flock, playing with toys, and adventures exploring!

Our goal for Zeema is to give her more perches she can move around on, get her strong enough to perch outside her enclosure, give her all the fun toys, and get her flying so she can literally and figuratively stretch her wings. Now, Zeema came to Animal Wonders when she was quite young with a severely broken leg, and after several surgeries to try and adjust the bone and help her body heal, we got close but not perfect. You can see that Zeema can perch and she’s also great at hopping, but she doesn’t use her foot like she should.

Instead of gripping the perch with her feet, she mostly just rests her ankle on it. And it works most of the time, but she still loses her balance and falls off frequently. You might think this would make her more cautious, but nope!

She’s still very active. She actually inspired me to give her a more challenging environment by pushing her limits and growing stronger! For about a year, Zeema had very low perches.

This was for her safety since she was dealing with a broken leg and surgeries. But now that she’s all healed up and feeling spunky, she wants to move! I knew she was ready for more challenges when she made the choice to jump to this hard purple perch instead of just staying on the low, soft, easy-to-grip rope perches.

So it was time to get creative and figure out what would work for our special handicapped toucan. She was very eager to practice her flying skills, so I wanted to give her the opportunity to stretch her wings and build her muscle but also make sure she wasn’t falling too far and hurting herself. So I built her several custom PVC perches in varying heights and wrapped them with a soft but easy to grip material.

She lands pretty hard on her perches, so I wanted to make sure there was some padding, too. She really didn’t like the perches in her space at first, but after a few days she got used to them and she could tolerate hopping past them. It wasn’t until I set her on the perch that she realized what she could do.

See, there’s this hanging ring perch that Zeema absolutely loves. When she was younger, I’d set her up on it and she was just so content to look out the window and watch what was going on while the perch swayed back and forth. She wasn’t able to go on the perch for a long time because it wasn’t safe or good for her leg while it was healing.

So when she sat on the new highest perch and she saw just how close she was to the ring perch, she forgot all about not liking the new perches, and within five minutes she had worked up the courage and made the jump. I had turned away from her for a second but the movement caught my eye, and when I turned around. I saw her happily swinging away on her favorite perch.

She had finally made it on her own! Now, while Zeema was wearing a leg brace and healing from her surgeries, her favorite thing was to sit in my lap and get head pets from me. It took her some time for her to gain her confidence back, but now that she’s healed up and knows she can use her leg, she’s really been into her toys.

We’ve had some wonderful gifts sent to Zeema over the last few months, and she’s really been enjoying them. Some were even hand made. So thank you to everyone who has kindly given Zeema toys.

They’re so appreciated! The toys are also a great incentive to get Zeema practicing maneuvering on even more branches, and she’s even using her wings to help make the big hops down. This has led us to start working more on controlled flight.

Since she doesn’t grip with both feet when she lands on a perch, the momentum of flight will often cause her to fall forward and off the perch. And she doesn’t appreciate my help when she’s falling, and she won’t let me catch her! Which means that in order to help train her to fly, I need to find a way for her to safely land without falling, because if she falls too many times, she’s not going to want to continue practicing.

So my plan is to teach her to fly using a pillow! Which will make her hard landings easier on her legs and more likely that she won’t fall off. Right now we’re just at the beginning, which means I’m teaching Zeema that the pillow isn’t something to be afraid of, and it’s been very slow going.

At first we worked on just getting past her intense fear of it because Zeema’s scared of new objects, and finally she tolerated the pillow in her space. She then began hopping over and biting the pillow vigorously, but eventually she was content to eat blueberries near it and then blueberries on top of it. She’s now reaching over the pillow and touching it with her neck, and the next step is getting her to step onto it.

And that’s what I’m really looking forward to, because once she understands that she can hop onto the pillow and get lots of treats, then I think we’ll really get moving on her flight training. Being able to focus on how we can make our beautiful toucan happy has been a long time coming. Zeema might not be able to move or use the same kinds of things other toucans can, but that just makes her more special, and it means we just have to get more creative to meet her needs.

If you’d like to help Zeema, you can send her some of the supplies she needs for her perches, like the vet wrap we use to pad the PVC tubes and the rope perches that are easy for her to grip. I’ve put a link to our Amazon Wish List in the description, where you can also find some of Zeema’s favorite toys. And if you’re in the mood to be creative and you’d like to make her some homemade toys yourself, you can send them to PO Box 7833, Missoula, MT 59807.

Just be sure that the toys are tied with string, they don’t have any pieces that can come off since she might swallow them, and avoid using tape or glue. Here are some examples of toys that are safe that Zeema really enjoys playing with. Another thing that Zeema loves to play with is paper! [LAUGHS] And if you wanted to make your own little paper toys, you should try this origami class on Skillshare!

Origami is the art of folding paper, and in this class artist Kevin Hutson will teach you to use basic folding techniques to make 7 different animals. The steps to make each animal are very easy to follow and the finished projects are so cute. Skillshare is an online learning community that offers membership with meaning.

With so much to explore, real projects to create, and the support of fellow-creatives,. Skillshare empowers you to accomplish real growth. And it makes it easy with short classes that will fit into your daily routine.

A Premium Membership will give you unlimited access, so you can join the classes and communities that are just right for you. And an annual subscription to Skillshare is less than $10 a month, and if you’re one of the first 1,000 people to click the link in the description, you can get a free trial of Skillshare’s Premium Membership. Thanks for watching and I hope you have a wonderful day!

If you’d like to continue going on adventures with us every week, be sure to subscribe and I’ll see you soon! Bye! [BOLD OUTRO MUSIC].