A woman who adopted a pet toucan two years ago has admitted she struggles witn looking after the bird at times. Janelle Tsao, 35, took Touki into her home in Los Angeles but the animal’s severe separation anxiety has meant that she can’t leave him alone in the house and hasn’t been on vacation since she got him.
Toucans only bond with one human. As birds, toucans are monogamous both in terms of mating and the humans that they bond with. This means that whenever Janelle leaves the room, Touki will “croak call or screech loudly” until she comes back, however long it takes. “It can be very annoying, like a screaming parrot,” she said.
Having Touki is like having a child. Toucans aren’t small birds, so having such a large one in the house poses its challenges. “It’s like having a child, he’s beautiful, intuitive and always curious,” Janelle explains. “These birds are like flying toddlers or monkeys – they will get into everything. Yesterday, I was chopping tomatoes and placed them in a bowl with a lid, which he isn’t allowed to have, they’re too acidic. He flies down to the counter and lifted the lid and stole a tomato, then he flew up to the second floor of our loft and quickly swallowed it before I could even start climbing!”
His diet is pretty expensive. Touki doesn’t just eat plain birdseed – he eats lots of fresh and exotic fruits and vegetables including blueberries, palm dates, lychee, and sweet potatoes. This ends up costing about $80 a month.
Oh, and he poops a lot too. Apparently, toucans poop every five to 10 minutes, which is crazy! Touki tends to do it while he’s flying around the house, and Janelle shares it can be “any color of the rainbow.” This means they’ve had to poo-proof most of the house. “We plasticize all of our couches, clean up any poops that don’t make the designated liners,” she said. “Caretaking for a toucan is high maintenance!”
Janelle wouldn’t recommend a toucan as a pet, but she loves Touki. She and her girlfriend, 40-year-old Arielle Zarutsky, saw him at a breeder’s in 2019 and fell in love with him. “Our hearts just melted. He was very quiet and I guess shy in the cage,” she recalled. “I think it’s because he was injured and he had scab like things in his feathers. I made the commitment right there, that I would do whatever it took to love and care for him. It was always a dream of mine to care for a toucan.”
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