A team of scientists from the Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences will reconstruct a part of the beak of the tenant of the zoo in Łódź – the Abyssinian hornbill. The bird had an accident, broke its beak and lost the tool for normal functioning.
An unpleasant incident took place in the Łódź zoo. The Abyssinian hornbill broke its magnificent beak, which is by no means only for decoration. Its loss results in the inability to perform key activities by the animal.
Like face and hands at once
– The beak, apart from being a “mouth” for eating, has many other functions: nurturing the plumage, building the nest, raising the young. It is like a face and hands at the same time for a human – explains Dr. Anna Bunikowska, a veterinarian at the ZOO in Łódź.
In short, the beak is essential to the animal. The current prosthesis – although it gives a substitute for the original – is not durable and is not enough in the long run. That is why scientists from the Department of Epizootiology of Birds and Exotic Animals of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences will undertake the reconstruction of a part of the beak of the Abyssinian hornbill. Preparations have been going on for several weeks.
A challenge for scientists
On Tuesday, Joanna – as she is sometimes called by her guardians – had a beak tomography performed at the Department of Surgery of the University of Wrocław. Dr. Tomasz Piasecki, an employee of the university, emphasizes that making a good and durable prosthesis that will serve the hornbill for a long time is not an easy task.
– We have already analyzed what such a beak looks like in a museum bird, which was lent to us by the Natural History Museum of the University of Wrocław. We have a CT scan of this bird’s complete beak, today we have made a CT scan of Joanna’s beak and on this basis we will be able to proceed with the prosthetic design. We also need to think about how to attach this prosthesis. The beak will probably be 3D printed from a suitable material and it will be necessary to shorten it slightly to be able to attach it stably – explains Dr. Piasecki.
The procedure is to be performed in just over a month in one of the clinics of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Life Sciences.
The Abyssinian hornbill lives in Africa, inhabits the savannah. The female weighs 4 kilograms and the length of her body reaches 100 cm. It is a species threatened with extinction.
Main photo source: University of Life Sciences in Wroclaw