Dear friends of Toucanland,
I have some big news. It is both a little sad as well as exciting, though before I share it, I’d like to first ask for your kindness. This has been a very difficult time for us, many months in the making, and because we have shared so much of our lives with the toucans publicly, it is out of both friendship and respect that I am providing you all with this letter. However, in opening myself up like this, I am really hoping for your empathy, as internet cruelty and harsh judgments are not something I need right now.
We have come to the decision that it is time to find a new home for the Three-Cans. It breaks my heart so much to have come to this conclusion – I’ve been struggling with this for a long time now. In adopting these birds, I made a commitment to provide them with the best possible life for the rest of their lives. And this next step is keeping that promise and upgrading their lives in a way that is beyond my own reach. Keeping them to myself would be a purely selfish choice at this point. I know it’s the right decision for all of our lives. They are healthy birds, and I think there is a potential that they could live many more years, and I want to ensure those years are even better than their last ones with us. I love these three toucans so much, which is a big part of the reason I want more for them. I am not enough, our situation is not enough.
When we adopted the Three-Cans out of the crappy dolphinarium they were in here in the British Virgin Islands, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. David, my boyfriend, had some past experience with parrots and assumed that caring for toucans would be similar to that of caring for parrots. But it’s not – not even close. For me, in parrot-sitting a friend’s African Grey for 4 weeks recently, it brought all of this into glaring focus. Parrots, while a high-maintenance commitment in their own ways, are much better suited as pets in comparison to toucans.
When we took on the Three-Cans, there was so little information out there about toucans, we just jumped in blind with the goal of providing these birds with a much better life. And we have significantly increased their quality of life over these past 4 years, though it has come at a huge sacrifice to our own lives. It is no exaggeration to say that caring for these birds has taken over our lives in ways we never wanted or anticipated. This is why I have spent so much effort on my Toucans as Pets page here on this website – there is no way we would have ever signed up for this had we had any clue of the realities of their care before we adopted them.
Though I have constant anxiety that this sounds horribly selfish, I must admit defeat – I just can’t do this anymore. We have sacrificed so much for these birds in time, money, and energy, and it has come at too great a price – having to prioritize their needs above our own has been detrimental to our life together, my career, and my overall well-being. I share this not as a means to evoke pity or to complain, but because I want to be honest. I’ve always wanted this site to be an accurate account of life with toucans, not a glossy depiction by a breeder with ulterior motives. If you have followed our adventures for any length of time, you know that I am a committed, animal-loving person who adores her pets and is willing to sacrifice a lot for them, however, having toucans has nearly broken me. These birds should never be kept as household pets. They need to be in a zoo-like setting with multiple caregivers available to attend to their needs. As two people on a little island with no backup, it is simply too much work. These past four years, without a true break in their constant demands, have taken a heavy toll on us.
On that note, I am pleased to share that we have found a fantastic new home for Paco, Paz, and Pepe. They will be moving just a short boat ride away to neighboring Necker Island. Necker is a private island next to the one we reside on owned by Sir Richard Branson and is home to a variety of animals from lemurs, to flamingos, to parrots, to tortoises. All of the animals on Necker are incredibly well-cared for by a team of keepers, receive regular veterinary care, are enriched, and enjoy spacious, natural habitats. The Three-Cans will be no exception.
If you’d like to find out more about Necker Island and its animals, check out this post and accompanying video.
Also, a bird friend who we met through this site, Vicki of Braveheart Dogs and Birds, visited us a few months back and had the opportunity to check-out Necker Island and tour the animal set-ups herself. You can read about her experience in this blog post.
I’m so excited for the opportunities ahead for the Three-Cans. Due to our friendship with the Necker team and close proximity, David and I are able to be closely involved in making sure this is as smooth of a transition as possible for the birds. We are helping to design appropriate aviaries for them on Necker to move into for now, and are training Necker’s keepers with the birds so they can all get to know one another slowly, still here at our house to start.
As Necker continues to evolve its animal programs, they have some impressive plans for the coming years that will be beneficial for the toucans as well. With more space, I’m hoping that Paz and Paco may even come to be socialized together as a pair in time. They both expressed interest in one another this past mating season, though their current aviaries were too small for us to safely introduce them to one another. Pepe is going to continue to be provided with a special, altered aviary to protect him from hurting himself if/when he falls.
I know many of you have enjoyed watching the special relationship Paco and I have shared almost as much as I have. It has been one of the greatest joys of my life to earn his trust and interact so closely with such an incredible creature. However, this past mating season in particular has helped me to realize just how unnatural and stressful this relationship actually is to him. It hurt my heart to listen to him croak for me incessantly, not understanding why his “mate” wasn’t by his side 24/7. It is my hope that by removing my constant presence from the equation, he may be able to accept Paz fully and enjoy companionship within his own species. I am confident that he will move on quickly and with little stress. Though he is attached to me to a degree, it is important to remember he is still a wild, undomesticated animal – he is not a dog. Whenever I have gone out of town, both David and our vet/sitter have let me know how quickly he moves on with his life and adjusts fine in my absence. He will be provided with plenty of attention and enrichment on Necker Island. I feel assured that the transition will be positive for all three of them.
I know this is hard to hear, but I hope you can understand what a difficult letter this was for me to write. I also hope that knowing what you know of me, my commitment to these birds, and my deep love and respect for them, I would never put them in harm’s way and have done my due diligence to ensure they will be as well cared for, if not better, than they have been with us.
To those of you who have shared the joys and the hardships with us, great and small, I’d like to thank you for your friendship. Of the many wonderful things having the toucans has brought into my life, among the top was the opportunity to connect with all of you amazing people.
If you would like to keep in touch with us, here are some ways you can do so:
Subscribe to this blog (in the sidebar) – I may provide future updates on the Three-Cans or toucans in general and this will allow you to be notified of any new posts.
If you’d like to stay in touch with me personally, you can visit my website and/or follow me on Instagram @womanonarock for daily snapshots from my life in the Caribbean.
Your letter was touching and heartfelt.
My wife and I live in Costa Rica, near the beaches of the Pacific Ocean, where we see toucans on ocaision. While we have no desire to make any attempt to capture these gorgeous creatures, we were wondering if there is perhaps something that we could do attract them to visit our property more frequently, so that we could enjoy watching them more often. Perhaps by setting out fresh fruit or other attractant?
We have a large mango tree a few feet off of our deck and keep hoping that this may attract some species of exotic birds like toucans, during fruit bearing season.
Any thoughts or ideas?
Hi Kelly, Thanks so much for the note. It sounds like a lovely place to live and see wildlife! In general, feeding wild animals should be discouraged for many reasons. But perhaps planting some more fruit trees around your property – particularly their favorites like papaya – would encourage them to forage closer by naturally. All the best to you, Chrissann
That is wonderful for both you and the three cans! I’m so glad I discovered your blog. It has been an eye opener. Having been pet sitting for a wonderful toucan is so much fun and I get paid well for doing so. Thanks to your blog I can see where owning one would be a whole different story. Your toucans will have s wonderful life on Nectar Island
Thank you, Penny! I’m glad you’ve found the site useful. 🙂
I think you’re doing the right thing. It’s best to be honest with yourself and realize when you’ve done all you can. It takes a lot of courage to give up things you love, but it’s definitely in their best interest. On that note, I’ve met Mr. Branson on several occasions and he is an outstanding man with the compassion of a saint. No doubt in my mind that the ‘cans will live out the rest of their years as happy as they can be in Necker island 🙂
Thank you, Zeke! 🙂
Thank you for your lovely videos, I’m sure the toucans were very happy under your care. 🙂 Showing all the love we can for others doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to stand by our side, and you’ve been able to recognise that very maturely. Others and I are going to miss your new videos terribly, but they shall be a great memento for a relationship that was both careful and selfless. Congratulations for your decision and I hope other equally lovely pets await for you! Hugs from Brazil.
Thank you, I appreciate your kind note. xo
You are a great lady who took amazing care of these birds. I am sure that it was a heartbreaking decision to relocate them. Blessings to you all.
Thank you so much, Jacqueline, I appreciate your kind note. 🙂 xo
God bless you both for your sincere and generous hearts. You did a great job, and even though I’m only seeing your website today for the first time, I can tell it has been maintained with a lot of sincerity and love.
Wishing you and the birds well. It looks as though they are going someplace fabulous.
Thank you, Laurie, I appreciate you taking the time to drop a kind note. 🙂
We spent lots of time on Saba and enjoyed seeing the birds and your interaction with them. Can’t imagine how difficult a decision that was as we saw your love for them. I am sure they will be happy at Necker and are close by. Many blessings to you both and the 3 P’s 🙂
I have a question, will you ever own parrots?
Perhaps. I’d love to one day, though I have a really hard time emotionally having an animal in a cage. But I do love spending time with parrots. We shall see.
I only discovered your videos on youtube a few days ago, and this letter brought tears to my eyes. Not just because the birds were being relocated, but because I can tell that you deeply care for them, and such a separation will be very hard. I know the internet is full of rude people, but any person who spent any amount of time watching your videos would know that your care and love for these birds runs deep. I feel for you, I really do.
Thank you, Luke – I appreciate you reaching out and empathizing.
Dear Chrissann, please dont feel guilty. We all can see how hard the decision was for you.You already did more for the toucans than anyone else would ever have done and their now home will sure be better for them in the long run. I have been watching your toucan-videos almost every day and will continue to (re-)watch them, as long as you keep them online. They are one of the few things that always make me happy, no matter how bad my day may have been :-). Best wishes and love from Germany, Dominik
Thanks so much, Dominik – I appreciate the kind note and am happy our videos have brought some joy to your life. 🙂