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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Animal Rescue IX: Expanded quarters for Tookie the Toucan

Ramphastos sulfuratus in Nicaragua
Tookie, the Keel-billed Toucan, in his enclosure at Estacion Biologica Laguna de Apoyo. Photo by Wendy van Kooten.

Tookie is a Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus). He was a pet of a good-hearted (but possibly misguided, our humble opinion) woman, who treated him well, as far as wild animals can be treated well in cages. But, Tookie's owner passed away. We assumed custody of Tookie in December, 2011 (read about it here). 
Keel-billed Toucan
Tookie's longest digit on his left foot is visibly deformed. He likely suffered a broken toe when captured or during some transferral in captivity. Photo by Wendy van Kooten.
Tookie blossomed in his new location at Estacion Biologica. He was extremely attentive to all the birds flying and monkeys and squirrels crawling overhead, all new events for him in comparison to the city life he was leading previously. His enclosure did not give him room to fly, however, and he really needs to practice flying to get ready for real freedom. We multiplied the space in his enclosure, We decided to give him a greater space, with natural vegetation and branches of a live fig tree as part of his existence.

Ramphastos sulfuratus
Tookie senses something is up. The wire mesh of his enclosure is collapsing, as it gets enveloped in a new, larger enclosure. Photo by Wendy van Kooten. 
Tookie watched intently as our workers built an enclosure of chicken wire which completely engulfed his first home in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. He is comfortable with people near him, so he was not startled by all the work, in spite of hammers pounding.
Ramphastos sulfuratus
Pablo, Elmer and Florian assemble Tookie's new enclosure and dismantle his smaller one. Photo by Wendy van Kooten.
A fig tree growing over a rock on the patio of Estacion Biologica was trimmed and its lowest branches were included in the space for Tookie. The new enclosure shape was not only about three times as large, it included natural features such as plants, and a view over the roof of our kitchen, into the forest behind us.
Tookie seems to be supervising the work of Florian and Pablo. He is a well-adjusted bird! Photo by Wendy van Kooten.
Once the larger enclosure was in place, our workers pulled down the materials of the smaller enclosure, leaving Tookie free to move about anywhere in his new, larger space. But meanwhile, Tookie enjoyed the company!
Ramphastos sulfuratus
Tookie's new enclosure is almost complete, and his smaller one is now dismantled. He has flown to the highest spot in the enclosure, on a branch in the fig tree at the top of the photograph. Photo by Wendy van Kooten. 
Once his enclosure was opened into the greater area, Tookie flew to the highest limb in the fig tree. Elmer and Florian continued with the details of his cage, and he watched as they installed perches and sealed off corners.
Keel-billed Toucan in Nicaragua
Tookie enjoys the new horizons offered from the top of his new enclosure, while Elmer and Florian position branches for him to use. Photo by Wendy van Kooten. 
A Keel-billed Toucan is not a strong flyer, having short wings and a bulky body. Flight is vital for him, nonetheless, especially if he is to return to the wild. His new space gives him room to make a few flaps in several directions, which also reduces his boredom and anxiety which are common among caged animals. 

We have been fortunate to find Tookie so well-adjusted to Laguna de Apoyo. He enjoys watching the squirrels and monkeys, and he does not mind when they crawl on his cage. In fact, he is rarely bothered by anything. He eats lots of papaya daily, drinks massive amounts of clean water, and eats other fresh foods such as tomatoes, avocados, cucumber, and several native fruits from the forest here. Each day, he engages in a vigorous period of flight from one side of the cage to the other in rapid sequence, a few minutes at a time. 

We have learned a lot about the Keel-billed Toucan while keeping Tookie near us. First of all, he depends on water, more than most birds. In fact, he enjoys getting doused every day, and he preens himself once wet. He eats A LOT. His capacity to consume far exceeds our imagination. 

The videos below demonstrate his reaction to his newly increased space soon after the workers were done with his cage. He looks all round, checking out what all the new space means, then he goes for it! Videos by Wendy van Kooten.

Do you know of wild animals in captivity in Nicaragua? Many of them should not be held as pets and should be returned to the wild if at all possible. Work with us to make Nicaragua free of wild animals in the pet trade! And please come to see Tookie during the next couple of weeks-he will soon be set free, and then you will have to go birdwatching to see him. 
Keel-billed Toucan
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