Jary the Hornbill Gets 3D-Printed Casque in Life-Saving Cancer Surgery

A 22-year-old male great pied hornbill called Jary that was diagnosed with cancer is recovering well after surgery gave him a 3D-printed prosthetic casque.

Experts from the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) revealed his condition in a Facebook video uploaded Wednesday. It showed the recovery since his July diagnosis, discovered by keepers after an 8cm-wide gash appeared on the bird's casque—an enlarged section on the bill.

After a CT scan, it was decided that Jary, a name which reportedly translates to "a warrior with a helmet" in ancient Norse, should undergo surgery to remove the cancerous growth.

A 3D-printed casque was created especially for Jary to cover the exposed tissue, WRS said.

The video elaborated on the procedure, explaining: "An oscillating saw was used to cut through the casque. The casque was carefully removed and the remaining tissue was scraped off and the blood flow was stopped. Jary's new casque was carefully positioned. Holes were drilled to allow the casque to be screwed in place. An x-ray was performed to ensure everything was in place."

As reported by Yahoo Singapore, the Jurong Bird Park, where the bird lives in captivity, has only seen two similar cases of the cancer in the past. The vets worked with Keio-National University of Singapore to create the prosthesis—a process which took almost two months to complete.

The surgery took place on September 13 and Jary has made a good recovery, WRS said. The bird has been discharged from hospital. According to the Facebook video, his new casque has turned yellow. "He colored it himself using natural pigmentation from his tail," the reserve stated.

"Jary was eating normally the day after the surgery, and recently also started rubbing the prosthetic casque on its preening glands, which secretes yellow pigment," Dr Xie Shangzhe, assistant director of conservation, research and veterinary services at WRS told Yahoo. "These natural behaviors are good indications that he has accepted the prosthesis as part of him."

Dr Xie told Channel NewsAsia: "This case is a great example of how veterinarians and engineers can work together to utilize science and technology for the treatment of diseases such as cancer in all species, including birds." Jary is recovering under observation, the avian expert said.