+
upworthy
Science

Brazilian veterinarian gives parrot a second chance at life with a prosthetic beak

The parrot could not survive in the wild without its beak, which is used to build nests, fend off predators and eat.

parrot beak; beak reconstruction; animal rescue; bird rescue; animals

Brazilian veterinarian gives parrot a second chance at life.

A parrot in Brazil got a lucky break when it was rescued after someone found it with a severely damaged beak. In fact, most of its little beak was completely gone. Birds use their hard beaks to eat, fend off other animals and build nests, and their mouths are essentially their hands while their feet are busy walking, scratching or holding twigs.

Plus, I don't know if you've paid much close attention to birds, but they don't seem to have a lot of dexterity with their tiny little bird legs. They sort of walk around like peg-legged pirates even though I'm pretty sure birds have knees. (I'm not a bird scientist or a zoologist if that wasn't clear.)

Luckily for this parrot, Renascer ACN, an animal rescue and rehabilitation facility in Planura, Brazil, had a doctor on staff who not only knows if birds have knees but also knew how to make a prosthetic beak.


"Bird beaks are made mostly of bone—they're just a specialized modification of the upper and lower jaw bones shared by almost all vertebrates. The outside of a bird's beak, however, is covered not in skin, but in a thin, shiny sheath of keratin, the same protein that makes up your hair and fingernails," Rebecca Heisman shares on the American Bird Conservatory website.

Heisman also points out that since the beaks on birds are made of bone, they cannot grow back if they're broken off.

According to PetMD, birds who are missing portions of their upper and lower beak are typically unable to adapt and survive, which is what makes this parrot so lucky. While many other veterinarians likely would've recommended humane euthanasia, this bird was spared that fate thanks to a creative doctor.

The bird's upper bill was almost completely gone and its lower bill was broken when Paulo Roberto Martins Nunziata, the founder of Renascer ACN, first saw the bird. Nunziata began working with veterinarian Maria Ângela Panelli Marchió, who specializes in animal orthopedics and creates animal prosthetics out of resin.


“This parrot was found in a terrible condition and had totally lost its beak. Together with veterinarian Maria Ângela Panelli Marchió, we rescued it as soon as we found out,” Nunziata told Bored Panda.

Panelli Marchió reconstructed the lower beak using polymethylmethacrylate and shaped it by hand to the broken bone. But for the upper beak, she had to create the entire prosthetic out of the same material and attach it using metal brackets into what was left of the top beak. The metal holds the new beak in place, and since it's made of resin, it's extremely hard—just like a real beak—and should last for years.

But while the beak reconstruction was a smashing success and is nearly indistinguishable from a natural beak, releasing the parrot wouldn't be safe.

“Today it has a normal life. However, it just can’t be returned to its natural habitat because even though the prosthesis is resistant, there’s a risk of it falling over time, as these animals use their beaks for everything,” Nunziata explained to Bored Panda.

Surprisingly, the reconstruction only took one surgery due to the quick-setting nature of resin, and now this sweet parrot can have a normal life as some lucky person's pet.

popular

Scientists tested 3 popular bottled water brands for nanoplastics using new tech, and yikes

The results were alarming—an average of 240,000 nanoplastics per 1 liter bottle—but what does it mean for our health?

Suzy Hazelwood/Canva

Columbia University researchers tested bottled water for nanoplastics and found hundreds of thousands of them.

Evian, Fiji, Voss, SmartWater, Aquafina, Dasani—it's impressive how many brands we have for something humans have been consuming for millennia. Despite years of studies showing that bottled water is no safer to drink than tap water, Americans are more consuming more bottled water than ever, to the tune of billions of dollars in bottled water sales.

People cite convenience and taste in addition to perceived safety for reasons they prefer bottle to tap, but the fear factor surrounding tap water is still a driving force. It doesn't help when emergencies like floods cause tap water contamination or when investigations reveal issues with lead pipes in some communities, but municipal water supplies are tested regularly, and in the vast majority of the U.S., you can safely grab a glass of water from a tap.

And now, a new study on nanoplastics found in three popular bottled water brands is throwing more data into the bottled vs. tap water choice.

Researchers from Columbia University used a new laser-guided technology to detect nanoplastics that had previously evaded detection due to their miniscule size. The new technology can detect, count and analyze and chemical structure of nanoparticles, and they found seven different major types of plastic: polyamide, polypropylene, polyethylene, polymethyl methacrylate, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate.

In contrast to a 2018 study that found around 300 plastic particles in an average liter of bottled water, the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January of 2024 found 240,000 nanoplastic particles per liter bottle on average between the three brands studied. (The name of the brands were not indicated in the study.)

As opposed to microplastics, nanoplastics are too small to be seen by microscope. Their size is exactly why experts are concerned about them, as they are small enough to invade human cells and potentially disrupt cellular processes.

“Micro and nanoplastics have been found in the human placenta at this point. They’ve been found in human lung tissues. They’ve been found in human feces; they’ve been found in human blood,” study coauthor Phoebe Stapleton, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Rutgers University’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy told CNN Health,

We know that nanoplastics are making their way into our bodies. We just don't have enough research yet on what that means for our health, and we still have more questions than answers. How many nanoplastics does it take to do damage and/or cause disease? What kinds of damage or disease might they cause? Is whatever effect they might have cumulative? We simply don't have answers to these questions yet.

That's not to say there's no cause for concern. We do know that certain levels of microplastic exposure have been shown to adversely affect the viability of cells. Nanoplastics are even smaller—does that mean they are more likely to cause cellular damage? Science is still working that out.

According to Dr. Sara Benedé of the Spanish National Research Council’s Institute of Food Science Research, it's not just the plastics themselves that might cause damage, but what they may bring along with them. “[Microparticles and nanoparticles] have the ability to bind all kinds of compounds when they come into contact with fluids, thus acting as carriers of all kinds of substances including environmental pollutants, toxins, antibiotics, or microorganisms,” Dr. Benedé told Medical News Today.

Where is this plastic in water coming from? This study focused on bottled water, which is almost always packaged in plastic. The filters used to filter the water before bottling are also frequently made from plastic.

Is it possible that some of these nanoplastics were already present in the water from their original sources? Again, research is always evolving on this front, but microplastics have been detected in lakes, streams and other freshwater sources, so it's not a big stretch to imagine that nanoplastics may be making their way into freshwater ecosystems as well. However, microplastics are found at much higher levels in bottled water than tap water, so it's also not a stretch to assume that most of the nanoplastics are likely coming from the bottling process and packaging rather than from freshwater sources.

The reality is, though, we simply don't know yet.

“Based on other studies we expected most of the microplastics in bottled water would come from leakage of the plastic bottle itself, which is typically made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic,” lead author Naixin Qian, a doctoral student in chemistry at Columbia University, told CNN Health. “However, we found there’s actually many diverse types of plastics in a bottle of water, and that different plastic types have different size distributions. The PET particles were larger, while others were down to 200 nanometers, which is much, much smaller.”

We need to drink water, and we need to drink safe water. At this point, we have plenty of environmental reasons for avoiding bottled water unless absolutely necessary and opting for tap water instead. Even if there's still more research to be done, the presence of hundreds of thousands of nanoplastics in bottled water might just be another reason to make the switch.

This is not a before picture.

When Molly Galbraith posted on Facebook a photo of herself on a beach in a bikini, her caption wasn't your usual "look at me" selfie.

"This not a before picture. This is not an after picture," she writes.

Based in Lexington, Kentucky, Galbraith is the owner and co-founder of Girls Gone Strong, a company that seeks to provide fitness solutions and community not influenced by the juggernaut, multi-billion dollar weight loss industry, and in her caption for the Facebook post, she creating a litany of what her body has experienced and withstood. "This is a body that loves protein and vegetables and queso and ice cream. This is a body that loves bent presses and pull-ups and deadlifts and sleep. This is a body that has been abused with fast food and late nights and stress. This body has been publicly evaluated, judged, and criticized."

Keep ReadingShow less

Cat learns to run on two feet after front leg amputations

Babies are really adaptable. The same can be said for baby animals and it's likely because they just don't know any other way of life so they just go with it. But even knowing that, it's still hard to imagine a kitten getting around with no front legs.

Cats essentially use everything from their whiskers to their tails to balance, so how would one walk without two of it's four legs? The answer is, carefully at first. Duck is a kitten that had to have both of her front legs completely amputated after she was rescued and while she was wobbly at first, she quickly adapted.

Keep ReadingShow less

All GIFs and images via Exposure Labs.


Photographer James Balog and his crew were hanging out near a glacier when their camera captured something extraordinary.

They were in Greenland, gathering footage from the time-lapse they'd positioned all around the Arctic Circle for the last several years.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

7 secrets to raising awesome, functional teenagers.

Step 1: Ditch the myth that all teens are sullen, angry creatures.

All photos used here are mine, used with permission.

My beautiful teens.


I occasionally get asked by mothers of young children what the secret is to raising great teenagers.

My initial response is that I have absolutely no clue. My kids are who they are IN SPITE of having me as a mother. (The young moms don't find that answer too helpful.)

Really, the first thing that I will tell you is to disbelieve the myth that teenagers are sullen, angry creatures who slam doors and hate their parents. Some do that, but the overwhelming majority do not. Every one of my kids' friends are just as happy and fun as my kids are, so I know it's not just us.

Keep ReadingShow less

Lee Loechler's incredible "Sleeping Beauty" proposal.

There are creative, romantic proposals, and then there's this one.

Lee Loechler recently proposed to his girlfriend, Sthuthi David, by taking her to a packed theater to see her favorite Disney movie, Sleeping Beauty. Little did she know that Loechler had spent six months altering the animation of the film's most iconic scene, changing the characters to look like the couple themselves and altering the storyline to set up his Big Question. And that's only the beginning.

Watching David's face during the scene change is sheer delight, as her confused look proves that she has no clue what is about to happen.

Keep ReadingShow less