China’s Nanjing Zoo: Beautiful Cockatoo’s Beak Begins to Fall Off After Bullying, Saved with 3D Printed Prosthetic

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infuryWhile we are given the privilege of covering many stories today regarding incredibly inspirational instances where individuals—and many young children—receive 3D printed prosthetics, sometimes we also hear of this being translated to the animal and pet world. Pulling at the heartstrings, we see innocent animals who have suffered suddenly being given a much greater quality of life. For a cockatoo named Huizai, life recently turned around for sure after a terrible experience in being bullied.

While you may consider that a human atrocity confined to the elementary-school playground, the behavior of wildlife can be unwaveringly cruel at times, and birds will often decide to bully another more passive flock member—from pecking out his feathers to knocking him off his perch—or worse, as in Huizai’s extreme case.

In Chinese, his name means ‘Grey Boy.’ This poor cockatoo, after being roughed up by another in an all-out brawl, was quite injured and shaken emotionally as well. After the bullying episode, his beak began to crack and ultimately, Huizai was in danger of losing it beak altogether. His keepers at the Nanjing Zoo in Jiangsu, China were very concerned about his future, as his quality of life was not good due to the state of his beak. The bird’s confidence had been lowered and he was not displaying an appetite for the usual consumption of seeds and fresh fruit. The beak itself was so cracked toward the end that it actually began to fall off.

beak

The new 3D printed beak

“The beak is very important to a parrot’s appearance,” said Cheng Wangkun, one of the vets at the zoo. “Huizai knew that it was different from the others and gradually preferred to stay alone. Sometimes it even refused to come out of its cage.”

Luckily, very recently Huizai was able to receive a 3D printed prosthetic beak, lessening the worry over his status as being ‘less than a bird’ in the animal kingdom and at the zoo. Concerned keepers and vets had contacted the Nanjing Research Institute of Additive Manufacturing for help and they surely came through, fabricating an amazing and functional new beak for the poor dejected parrot. Not only did they help, but the 3D printed beak was made for free.

To create something of the proper size and weight, experts from Nanjing were able to scan the beak of a similar, healthy parrot. With that digital design, they 3D printed a resin prosthetic, which was attached with eleven bone nails. Vets reported that the procedure was completed during a surgery in which Huizai was put under anesthesia, allowing them to connect the new prosthetic without incident.

Thanks to the teamwork on all sides, this beautiful bird is now able to—and wants to—eat and drink just as he did before his injury. Not only that, his confidence has returned and he is also being accepted by the other birds who apparently must think his prosthetic is pretty impressive. We sure do!

9e5389bbjw1f2ywlmsgamj213z0ty7a9Again, this is a great example of why 3D printing is so transformative, and beneficial. Because of the customization and patient-specific care available—yes, even to a parrot—the result was a prosthetic that fit well and was able to be made expediently and affordably. Several other birds around the world have also benefited from life-altering and -saving 3D printed beaks. Without such technology, there may not have been funds in a zoo budget to create something like an artificial beak. Because of the latitude allowed in prototyping and printing, designers can keep trying until they get a 3D model exactly right—and without breaking the bank. How lucky for Huizai—and let’s hope they have now instituted a no tolerance for bullying rule at that zoo! Did you find Huizai’s story inspiring? Discuss in the 3D Printed Beak for Huizai the Cockatoo forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Source: Mashable / Images: Weibo, via Mashable]
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Surgery to attach the new beak

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