Hornbill Started Practising Mating Calls After Cancer Recovery

Singapore now has another cancer survivor, announced Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) on Tuesday (19 Feb).

And the inspiring figure is none other than one of their hornbills, Jary (pronounced ya-ri).

Last July, Jary’s keepers noticed a gash on his casque showing unhealthy tissue. A closer inspection uncovered the presence of cancerous tissue.

His vets then devised a plan to give him a 3D-printed prosthetic casque.

Now, in his first post-op medical check, Jary appears to be recovering well.

First signs of cancer

In July 2018, Jurong Bird Park keepers noticed an 8 cm-wide gash on Jary’s casque, exposing underlying tissue that looked unhealthy.

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Suspecting cancer, they then sent him for a procedure to extract a tissue sample from his casque for examination, which confirmed their fears.

Giving Jary a second chance at life

While the diagnosis was grim, Jary’s avian vets decided to give him a fighting chance at life.

Together with 3D printing engineers from the National University of Singapore and an animal clinic doctor, a plan was hatched to remove the affected part of the casque via surgery and replace it with a 3D-printed prosthetic one.

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On 13 September 2018, Jary received his 3D-printed casque in an unprecedented surgery worldwide for a hornbill. This prosthetic casque will stay with him till a new one grows back in.

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Success in health, and maybe in love?

Jary’s condition has seen promising results so far, much to the delight of his vets and keepers.

3 months after the surgery, he was observed colouring his new prosthetic casque with yellow pigment from his preening gland, just like any other great hornbill would naturally do.

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And at his first post-op medical check in January this year, vets found no signs of the cancer recurring.

In fact, Jary has even started practising mating calls in search of a partner.

To help him, his keepers introduced him to a female great hornbill, Asha.

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Currently in the courtship period, both hornbills are living side-by-side at Jurong Bird Park’s hornbill block, separated by a mesh as they get to know each other more.

Here’s a 1-min video of Jary and Asha in their habitat.

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Perhaps Jary’s story can inspire us to not give up easily in times of hardship.

We sure are happy that Jary has joined the ranks of cancer survivors in Singapore, and we hope he will find fruition in love as well — probably using his new casque as an added charm.

Featured image from Wildlife Reserves Singapore.