Jan 22, 2015 | By Simon

Although we've been hearing a lot lately about 3D printed prosthetics and orthotics for humans, our furry friends and other animals are just as likely to be in need of a custom designed prosthetic as their human counterparts.

Back in December, ZooAve, an animal rescue center in Alajuela, Costa Rica, received an injured toucan bird from the forest of Grecia, Costa Rica who, while otherwise was completely healthy, was completely missing one-half of its top beak. It was later discovered by Costa Rican news outlets that a group of teenagers had hit the defenseless bird with a stick and had caused injury to the otherwise innocent bird.

Similar to other cases of injured birds, the toucan will no longer be able to go back to its natural environment in its current state and be able to survive independently. Without its beak, the toucan is not only left defenseless against other predators, but reproduction is also unlikely due to female toucans choosing their mates based on the color of their beak.

Thanks to the power of the internet however, information of the incident has spread fast and some good samaritans have established an Indiegogo page to help raise the necessary funds for creating a 3D printed prosthetic beak for the endangered toucan. While the Costa Rican government doesn't have the funds to save a single animal, Indiegogo donors have raised over $7,000 in just a couple of weeks... and the campaign will go for nearly another month and a half until March 10th.

The company tasked with creating the 3D printed prosthetic beak, OrthoPets, specializes in creating custom prosthetics for animals at their Denver, Colorado, USA facility. While they mainly focus on four-legged pets, they were more than willing to help build the new beak for the toucan.

As for how they will make the beak, the process will likely involve using 3D scanning or orthographic photographs and measurements to rebuild the lost portion based off of the remaining base of the existing top beak. While it's still unknown what kind of a material or 3D printing process they would use to 3D print the prosthetic, something that results in a beak that is lightweight and structurally rigid would seem to make the most sense.

As for when the prosthetic will be made and what the additional raised funds will go towards, campaign starter Luciano Lacayo adds:

"We are in close contact with the parties in Costa Rica and the US to make the prosthesis a reality now. All further funds raised will go directly to the ZooAve Rescue Center in Alajuela, Costa Rica, to support them in the preservation of the beautiful wild birds and toucans there."

Lacayo has also stated that every little bit helps "to make the world a better place"...so if you feel up for helping a toucan receive a 3D printed prosthetic beak, you can donate directly over at the project's Indiegogo page.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Zoe wrote at 3/26/2016 3:26:04 PM:

Poor thing😱😟i hope it will be alright🐦

Mike wrote at 1/22/2015 11:36:17 AM:

lets see,.scan,.create and adjust model,.print in strong material,.superglue to what was left,..hmm lets say about $ 500,- so what's gonna happen to the rest of the money?? (btw,.some modelers will do the job for free)

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