Woman can’t leave toucan alone because of bird’s crippling separation anxiety

A woman who adopted a toucan hasn't had a holiday in two years because the bird is so distraught when she isn't by his side.

Los Angeles woman Janelle Tsao, 35, said she needs to get exotic pet Touki piles of fresh fruit daily and constantly poos everywhere.

The two-year-old bird's anxiety has become the biggest part of her life, she said.

Janelle explained: "It sounds ridiculous but his livelihood has taken over my life.

"I don't travel, I don't leave my home overnight or without an adult around him 24/7, I don't have a life apart from Touki now.

"It's a lot to ask: 'Can you watch my flying two-year-old?'"

Janelle also said Touki doesn't repay her loyalty with good behaviour – and is often mischievous.

Ms Tsao added: "These birds are like flying toddlers or monkeys – they will get into everything.

"Yesterday, I was chopping tomatoes and placed them in a bowl with a lid, which he isn't allowed to have. They're too acidic.

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"He flies down to the counter and lifted the lid and stole a tomato, then he flew up to the second floor of our loft and quickly swallowed it before I could even start climbing!"

The Keel-billed creature was just weeks old when Janelle and girlfriend Arielle spotted him at a breeders in June 2019.

Janelle said it was love at first sight.

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She said: "Our hearts just melted.

"I think it's because he was injured and he had scab like things in his feathers.

"I made the commitment right there, that I would do whatever it took to love and care for him.

"It was always a dream of mine to care for a toucan."

Whether Janelle still feels that way is less obvious.

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Because of toucans' colourful diets and quick digestive systems, Touki excretes often and in huge amounts all over Janelle and Arielle's apartment.

The couple spend $80 a month on sweet potatoes, palm dates, lychee and blueberries that cannot sit out for more than a few hours.

And sometimes the picky bird randomly decides he doesn't even like certain foods anymore.

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Janelle added: "Touki's poops can be huge and they can be any colour of the rainbow."

And that isn't the worst part.

Touki becomes so anxious when Janelle or Arielle leave the room that he screams till one of them returns.

The couple haven't been on a holiday in two years – since they adopted Touki.

Ms Tsao explained: "Working from home can be very challenging.

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"Making phone calls can be impossible, as he is so needy and demands attention all waking hours."

Janelle and Arielle began posting videos of their beloved pet on TikTok on their account @ToukiTheToucan.

The exotic creature quickly became a sensation, with the page gaining 9.2m likes and 600,000 followers.

Ms Tsao added the relationship she and Arielle have with the animal reverses the usual human-pet dynamic.

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She said: "We do not keep him as our pet, rather, he keeps us as his!

"I love him deeply and don't see my life without him.

"It is a joy and fortune to have such a majestic animal respond and connect with human interaction."

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