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.
Would you send me an update on the Cans.
I don’t know how I missed this but I’d like to be in touch/follow you agIn
Thanks for the note. I appreciate you thinking of us. You can find me now on Instagram as @womanonarock. All the best, Chrissann
Wonderful site and your letter was very well written, I feel for you, having been in a similar situation 20 yrs ago when I had a pair of toucans I had to find a home for because of the time commitment and cost, and just really knowing there was a better life out there for them. Most people have no idea the cost to house feed and care for them. I also had two emerald toucanets that made delightful pets and were relatively easy to care for. They passed on years ago but I still remember them fondly all these years later! Little toucans with big personalities! Thanks for creating this site, so much valuable information and beautiful pics!
Thanks so much, Sher – I appreciate the note! From one toucan lady to another – we’ll always have the memories. 🙂