The rescue of a baby toucan

It was a sunny and warm morning when a police officer knocked hard on my door, nearly forcing the door out of its frames, shouting my name, and demanding to be let in.

I was still half-awake in bed but I knew what he wanted and in impressive three minutes, I was up and dressed, ready to receive what he brought for me.

The moment I opened the door 2 little, scared eyes looked at me, and I could not contain myself with so much love for that fragile, little beauty.

I named him Tico, which in Portuguese is short for “tiny”, and he was a baby Green-billed toucan.

But I suppose I should start from the beginning…

In the summer of 2011, I spent a few months working at a military base in the South of Brazil, rehabilitating wild animals rescued by the environmental police. At times it was a really sad job, as I witnessed many animals, more than I could count, in agony and dying. But some other times it was the most amazing job, as I was responsible for releasing animals back into the wild.

That very, memorable morning the base received a call about some birds being smuggled in a small village nearby. After responding to the call and going to the rescue, they came back with a very special, precious little life for me to take care of.

It was love at first sight.

I never thought I would be so excited if someone told me I would be a mom. And by the end of our first day together he was already looking at me with trust and faith.

The following week was tense for both of us. Tico was weak and dehydrated and I felt frustrated and angry at myself for not being able to help him more. I wanted to make his pain go away and make him feel safe and well, yet he couldn’t stop crying, day and night. It was killing me.

This experience helped me better understand animal behavior. Each day I learned a bit more about how to make him feel comfortable. With little things changing, day by day, he began to trust me.

One thing I discovered was that he loved to stay in high places, so every night I settled him on a high shelf of my room and with a little kiss good night he slowly started to sleep well.

As with most things, time and love can heal the deepest wounds. A few months later, fully recovered Tico was moved to a protected, controlled environment in a forest, to live with other rescued Green-billed toucans and learn how toucans behave, how they find food and practice the art of flying.

I must admit I was worried sick—what would happen to him now, finally free and in a wild? But seeing him spreading his wings for the first time and being genuinely happy filled my heart with so much joy and was by far the best moment of my stay there!