A toucan named Grecia may have a second chance at a normal life after an attack last January left him without half of his upper beak. Without a complete beak, toucans cannot forage or eat and Grecia likely would have died in the wild. Thankfully, he was rescued by Zooave Animal Rescue (also known as Centro de Rescate de Vida Silvestre Tropical) who set to work immediately, collaborating with a team of industrial designers to create a prosthetic beak.

Engineers will use a 3-D printer to create a prosthetic that will be attached with pins or liquid adhesive to the remainder of Grecia’s beak. It’s unclear how successful the surgery will be, both because 3-D printing is a relatively new technology and because nobody is sure how Grecia will respond to the surgery. All efforts are being made to make sure the prosthetic is as light as possible.

“He’ll definitely be uncomfortable,” Dr. Carmen Soto, the Rescue’s veterinarian, explained. “It might be a little bit more heavy than usual. That’s what we’re trying to do with the prosthetic – make it as light as a normal beak.”

According to the latest update given last week, there’s still no date scheduled but if it goes as planned, Grecia will regain his balance and appearance and he will be able to eat normally.

A student at Erasmus in Holland named Luciano Lacayo heard about Grecia’s situation and started an Indiegogo campaign to raise $5,000 for his prosthesis. Not only did the campaign meet its goal in 48 hours, it has now raised over $10,000 that will go toward the development of the Zooave Animal Rescue’s animal hospital.

In addition to rehabilitating animals, Zooave Animal Rescue aims to educate youth about the mistreatment of animals.

“It’s important because this kind of thing happens when we don’t educate young people,” Dr. Soto explained, stressing the need to spread awareness about animal abuse. The organization rescues over 2,800 injured or mistreated animals every year.

It is heartening to witness the response to Grecia’s plight. In addition to the Indiegogo campaign, Grecia has received letters from children all over the world who are inspired by his story. He’s become an icon of the animal right’s movement, and with good reason.

To donate to Zooave Animal Rescue’s Indiegogo campaign, click here.

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