Gabriel Romano

La Paz, Sep 23 (EFE) .- Death has been the denouement of Tuki Tuki, a toucan whose beak was stoned and already in recovery became a new symbol for the protection of animals in times of forest fires in Bolivia.

“They told me that he had died,” Jerjes Suárez, a volunteer veterinarian who a few days ago had managed the feat to unite that fractured piece of the animal, which had even returned to eat and drink as if nothing had happened, told Efe this Wednesday.

Suárez regretted that “they did not know how to take care of him”, since the only thing that is known is that he escaped from a cage of a shelter in Puerto Quijarro, a town in the extreme east of the country, where volunteers work, and that he possibly suffered a ” cardiogenic shock “when they tried to catch him.


Last week the news of Tuki Tuki’s peak party sensitized many in Bolivia, to the point that the attitude of those who are believed to have thrown stones at him to prevent him from eating fruit from a property was condemned.

The bird was moved about 250 kilometers to the west, to Roboré, to the animal shelter where Jerjes Suárez usually cures, treats and even operates cats, dogs and horses, even wild animals.

In an operation lasting almost three hours, Suárez said that he made “five bridges with cerclage wire” and with acrylic, for human teeth, he managed to join the beak of the emblematic animal and get him to regain sensitivity, smell and have no pain.


The coexistence between birds and humans has become complex about three years ago, since fires in regions such as Bolivian Chiquitania have been constant and have affected hundreds of thousands of hectares in protected areas.

The fires and their consequences have caused “a migration of animals that was not seen before,” said this 37-year-old veterinarian, who never tires of assuring that this is something unprecedented.

Suárez’s explanation is that the fires “destroyed the food” of the birds, mainly those typical fruit trees of regions such as Chiquitania or the Bolivian Pantanal, which will take 30 or 40 years to recover.

This causes toucans, parabas and parrots to feed on fruit trees from the houses of cities and towns, he mentioned.

This activist recalled that in less than two months he treated a dozen toucans with different injuries such as fractured wings, broken beaks or lacerated legs caused by human attacks.

Part of the explanation that Suárez found is the “archaic minds” of the attackers and the “lack of education” to understand what is happening in that region.


“I don’t want to justify,” Suarez said when looking for a reason for human hostility to birds.

A part of his explanation lies in the poverty and the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in several populations in eastern Bolivia that live off tourism, which had stalled six months ago.

“It is a normal subsistence reaction” of some people who see the fruits that grow in their homes as something very precious, he said.

But the death of Tuki Tuki seems to reveal other problems, such as the lack of ecological education in populations close to nature reserves, where fires occur and the movement of animals such as birds.

Suárez complains that there is no one to train people who already have “little education” in these matters, in addition to the lack of specialists such as biologists who give guidelines for behavior in places rich in biodiversity.

“We have to understand. We are going to live with these birds for 30 or 40 years, we must educate and we must work on it because they do not have enough to eat to return to the forest,” he concluded. EFE

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