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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Animal Rescue XV: Our nicest Christmas

We at FUNDECI/GAIA think that wild animals should not be in cages. Obviously, not everyone feels the same way, because wild animals can be found in cages throughout Nicaragua. Even foreigners often feel the need to keep a bird in a cage or a monkey on a chain, and often they try to convince themselves that they are "rescuing" the animal by purchasing it. After all, caged wild animals can be found everywhere in Nicaragua, even animals that are legally prohibited from the trade in wild animals. So whenever we see someone with a caged animal, we consider it an opportunity to discuss what is best for the animal and also for the entire situation for the wild animals that suffer from the pet trade in Nicaragua.
So, we are no longer surprised when people just call us up and ask us to take their caged animals. This is an increasingly common event. The good folks at the Redwoods Resort did that back in October, wishing to place their Keel-billed Toucan back into the wild. We have had a single experience, and it was successful, so we responded enthusiastically.
Keel-billed Toucan
This Keel-billed Toucan narrowly escaped returning to the pet trade when employees of The Peace Project tried to convince the owners of the bird that they were Estacion Biologica! Photo by Pablo Somarriba.
In anticipation of his arrival, we augmented our cage space, with ample dimensions and natural conditions to permit flying and perching at different levels. We fenced the cage with high-quality, galvanized wire chosen in consultation with the National Zoo. Special help was provided by our volunteers, especially from Ruben Pelckman from On-Stage in Holland. When we were prepared, we called the good folks at the Redwood Resort and they delivered the bird. 
Ruben and Elmer are hard at work on the new cage for the Keel-billed Toucan. Photo Pablo Somarriba. 
The folks from the Redwood Resort had a beautiful bird, in perfect health and with intact plumage, worth easily 600 dollars in the pet trade in Managua. When they delivered him, they asked to find us at The Peace Project, where the employees immediately told them that they represented us and could take the bird. But thanks to the fast response of Elmer, this toucan narrowly escaped returning to the pet trade through the inappropriate intentions of these people. 
The Peace Project
The toucan in his new cage at Estacion Biologica in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Photo Pablo Somarriba.
Our new Keel-billed Toucan was beautiful, and quite wild. He had no intention of remaining in captivity. Likely captured as an adult, he did not like people and he was not satisfied with a cage, from the very beginning. This was a good sign.
We kept the toucan almost two months, feeding him well and observing him. He croaked often and loudly. He flew from side to side in his new cage. 
Keel-billed Toucan
Wild birds should not be in cages, and this toucan certainly agreed. He had ample food, attention, and room to fly, and he still wanted to be free! Photo Pablo Somarriba.
After all, this bird was in a cage. Although his conditions were better than ever, he wanted to be free, and having the abundant nature all around him inspired his desires even more. So, we began to prepare for his release. 
animal rescue
We carried the toucan to the southwestern corner of Lake Apoyo, where Keel-billed Toucans are common. FUNDECI/GAIA staff and volunteers helped to make the transfer to the wild, making the trip in our Road Warrior, also known as the Land Rover. Photo Pablo Somarriba. 
Keel-billed Toucans are common in the Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, only in the southwestern quadrant of the caldera. We took him to near the San Simian hotel, where their very conscientious staff participated in seeing off this beautiful bird on his first flight into freedom.
animal rescue
Having reached his launching point, the FUNDECI/GAIA staff prepare to take the toucan from his transport cage. Photo Topi Lehtonen. 
It is always exciting to see an animal return to the wild, but especially so when the animal shows his desire so strongly. This bird never liked captivity and he was ready to return!
pet trade
Hotel San Simian staff prepare to document the liberation moment. Photo Topi Lehtonen.
Keel-billed Toucans are quite large, as birds go. So he is best handled with two hands. The bill can cut skin, and the serrations are sharp. But a little cut was no deterrent to our staff who are devoted to protecting nature.
wild animals
Pablo and Elmer in the last moment of captivity for this lucky bird. Photo Topi Lehtonen.
Not all birds are so lucky. The pet trade is driven by the money many people are willing to pay to keep such an animal in a cage. We hope some people will read about this bird and remember that wild animals should live and die in the wild, not in cages.
Keel-billed Toucan
We hope to see you from a distance again some day! Photo Pablo Somarriba.
Would you like to help with wild animal rescue? FUNDECI/GAIA needs volunteers to care for animals, cages and supplies and good food for animals which frequently appear for our care. Or go birdwatching with us! You can help, by participating as a volunteer or by a donation to help to purchase food and supplies. Please contact us for more information.
animal rescue
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