Pet toucan takes over California woman’s life

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Thinking of getting an exotic bird as a pet?

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Los Angeles resident Janelle Tsao has a pet toucan called Touki, and the bird controls her entire life.

Tsao and her partner, Arielle Zarutsky, are wildlife fans and were ecstatic to acquire Touki, who was born in captivity, from a breeder in 2019.

As she told the UK Mirror, both women were immediately taken with the weeks-old bird and decided to make him their own.

“I made the commitment right there, that I would do whatever it took to love and care for him,” said Tsao.

“It was always a dream of mine to care for a toucan.”

That dream sounds more like a nightmare. Toucans need enormous amounts of attention, stimulation and wide-open spaces.

The birds also bond with one other animal or human. As a result, Touki has wild separation anxiety and cries out loudly if either woman leaves the room.

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And he squawks until they come back.

As a result, Tsao has a hard time working at home and hasn’t had a holiday in two years. She said she can’t go anywhere overnight unless another adult is there, 24/7.

And this seems to be the least of her worries.

Toucans are inquisitive, intelligent and very social. Tsao describes them as “winged toddlers or monkeys — they will get into everything,” and they also poop everywhere all the time.

At Tsao’s house, all the furniture is covered in plastic.

The women adore Touki, but say they would not recommend a toucan as a household pet.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

A woman with three toucans (who blogs about them) weighs in about the incredible expense of having such a pet. Toucans eat a lot of fresh fruit and need toys and other gadgets for amusement and stimulation.

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It takes hours every day to feed and care for the birds; the blogger keeps hers in outdoor aviaries so she can hose down their mess. Those keeping the birds inside don’t have that option.

A toucan’s life expectancy in captivity is about 20 years.


So this heirloom recipe from Costa Rica ( for toucan soup sounds interesting:

Recipe for Urrek (Toucan in Bribri)

  • Pluck and fillet the Toucan as you would any wild foul or chicken (boiling the bird may help remove feathers)
  • Fry the pieces of meat in a large pot with onion, garlic, wild cilantro and peppers, and salt (root vegetables can be added at this step, such as yucca)
  • Add water and bring to a boil; keep on the fire until the meat is cooked
  • Once the meat is cooked, stir in white rice
  • Finish cooking your soup until rice is tender and serve hot


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