A parrot with a habit of getting into fights has received a 3D-printed titanium prosthetic beak after his original one was ripped off in a battle with another bird.
A team of South African veterinary specialists fitted the 20-year-old rescued macaw named Max with his new beak after it was weakened and finally broken off during a series of fights with other birds.
Trevor Glover, the owner of the Hyacinth Haven Bird Sanctuary, in the seaside town of Plettenberg Bay, in South Africa’s Western Cape province, where Max lives, said: ‘When Max’s top beak got broken off, that piece was kept and given to Dr Brendan Tindall, who made a mould of it to keep if needed.
‘When the remaining part of the beak left on Max had settled completely, an impression of the stump was taken. These two items were what was sent to Bunnycorp to scan into their CAD program. This then formed the basis of discussion initially, and from that, the initial trial beaks were designed.
‘Over the two year period until the final prosthetic was printed in titanium, there were several other impressions taken to check the stability of the remaining stump. This was also aided by the CAT scan that was done to finally confirm there was enough solid material available to which the prosthetic could be attached. The waiting period also confirmed that the stump showed zero growth.
‘I do not have any other projects in mind simply as I have no present use for them fortunately. I think the importance of this operation was several fold, not only that we have the expertise here to perform such an operation like this successfully but also the technical expertise from several different disciplines that was needed was available even though it had never been performed in South Africa before and (from what my research uncovered) only twice before in the world in Brazil.
‘Importantly , this laid the groundwork and started a knowledge base which would allow this procedure to be utilised for other birds.’
Glover said that Max is currently being kept separate in a hospital aviary on the premises. Max apparently has a bad habit of starting fights with other birds and Glover is concerned that if Max is allowed to mingle with other birds too soon, they could rip his prosthetic off if he provokes another fight, ‘as their bite is extremely powerful”.