3D-printed beak to crow about

Grecia the toucan lost most of its upper beak after a group of youths mutilated the bird and left it to die.

But the majestic bird wears a sad smile no more.

The bird proudly showed off its new 3D-printed beak at Zoo Ave animal sanctuary in Alajuela, Costa Rica, on Wednesday.

Though large and stout looking, a toucan's bill is very light and composed entirely of "bone struts" filled with spongy, keratin tissue.

The beak is a highly efficient thermo-regulation tool for the birds and they also use them to reach deep into trees to access food.

Toucans are primarily fruit-eaters, but they are opportunistic as well and will prey on insects and small lizards.

Grecia, named after the area in the country where it was found, was taken to the animal sanctuary in January after it was attacked.

Pictures of the male toucan's mutilated beak caused outrage after they were circulated in Costa Rican newspapers and on social media.

A campaign to create a prosthetic beak for Grecia quickly raised funds for a 3D-printed replacement.

Said a Zoo Ave manager: "Just a few days after receiving the prosthesis, Grecia began singing again, something he hadn't done since he arrived here."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2016, with the headline '3D-printed beak to crow about'. Print Edition | Subscribe