Welcome all, to the saga of 2can.tv, a Youtube channel, Instagram, Facebook page, and Discord maintained by a dude named Brock Afentful, owner of a fluctuating number of pet toucans. Before we get started, I wanted to list some of my other posts about this situation, as it would really be to your benefit to take the time to go through all of it. I urge you to keep an open mind however.
If you "read" my material and upon finishing, are still asking yourself just why the heck do I have a problem with Brock, or why I would stand in the way of him "rescuing" toucans, you certainly have not read my content with an open, impartial mind. If you are of the belief that Brock is infallible and that absolutely nothing I say will change your mind, you're wasting your time sending me hate mail and death threats.
Last year I described an apparent mental failing I termed The Parrot Paradox. In short, this is people's tendency to see a pet that is uncommon and unusually owned and perceive that animal as difficult to care for (or jump to the conclusion that it doesn't belong in captivity) often without even knowing anything about that animal. This is a consistent occurrence with parrots (common) vs. toucans (uncommon) and the belief that the latter requires specialized care or should only be in zoos, even when parrots are considered to be high-maintenance pets .
To expand upon this cognitive bias, I would like to introduce you to the "Three Can'ts" (because they all say you can't care for a toucan properly, so to speak). These are three individuals who post a lot of online content about their pet toucans, therefore, their information is favored by Google and Youtube algorithms. All three have the following in common: They've owned toucans as pets, they all believe toucans shouldn't be pets, and they are all relatively young, have no education in the sciences, and had their first toucan(s) for 6 years and under before giving them up or having them prematurely die (generally longevity in captivity is 21 years ).
They are Brock Afentful of 2CAN TV, Jamieleigh Womach of Bird Tricks, and Chrissann Nickel of the blog Adventures in Toucanland.
I will discuss the other two in more detail in future posts, but while Womach and Nickel impulsively purchased their toucans, Brock may be the least qualified to be making public statements on the suitability of toucans as pets for many reasons.
To start, this is the video that inspired this post:
In this video, Afentful makes some comments that show an appalling lack of self-awareness and obvious hypocrisy which is evident from the title alone (Tiger King, Exploiting Animals for Fame, & Why Toucans Shouldn't be Bets!(Rant).
He also says: "I don't believe toucans, or any exotic animals, should be pets. But they are here to stay and we can't change that now. The best thing we can do is make sure they get to qualified people or facilities that give them the best lives possible." and on another video "I do NOT recommend or endorse Toucan's as pets."
These comments sound insane, considering that Afentful:
- Spent $10,000 to $12,000 on his first toucan, Ripely, from a breeder.
- When Ripely passed, he got his followers to help him buy a new one (and send the original's body to an unspecified museum), for a similar price.
- He also got his followers to help pay for 2 more toucans soon after, under the guise that they were being "rescued".
- He (obviously) puts up content that makes owning toucans look appealing (because they are), for revenue.
- He literately says that his channel is responsible for 75% of his income and asks his followers to help pay for his new house ("we're trying to move to a new facility" from the video "Toucans Bite and it is Not Fun").
Therefore, Brock Afentful is, by every definition, exploiting his birds, as they help pay his bills, and yes, his earnings also pay for the care of the birds, which is also to his benefit, because they are his desired, extremely expensive, luxury pets. One only needs to glance beneath the "rant" video in question, where he is ironically begging for donations and selling products depicting his pets.
Brock Afentful Questionable Husbandry
Why is Afentful asking for donations? The fact remains, either he can afford the care of his birds that he asked his supporters to help him buy and simply would rather have someone else do it, or he can't afford their care yet "rescued" two toucans after he spent what would be more than a month's income for much of America's population on the first toucan.
Furthermore, his house is filled with what appears to be expensive mainstream film memorabilia, including this model of a Jurassic Park T-rex that retails for over $500 in the U.S. at the time of its release.
This is important, as Afentful presents his channel as an educational resource and perhaps even a toucan "rescue". It should be noted that there are real bird rescues that utilize their limited resources to help as many lower value birds as possible, while Afentful is collecting money for three valuable (even if they are sick) animals that he owns completely for pleasure (his words: “I can’t imagine living my life without a toucan”) when he supposedly thinks that is wrong. He even claims that he does this "for a living".
Ironically, by the standards of most toucan keepers, Brock Afentful's enclosures are way too small for large toucans, including one of the most well-known breeders, Emerald Forest, and even they don't believe toucans shouldn't be pets. Most owners of large toucans believe they should ideally be housed in walk-in avaries. Here are cage specifications from three resources:
Emerald Forest: 12 feet by 24 feet by 8 feet 
AZA: 2 feet wide by 6 feet long by 6 feet high (this is only a quarantine cage for short periods) 
Summers, Amando: "Large Toucans need the largest Macaw-size cage you can find, or better, walk-in aviaries" .
This was Ripley, his first toucan's cage, this is Toupac's cage, and this is the cage for the 2 new birds he "rescued" (at 14:00), which appears to be the same model (or is it the same cage?) of Toupac's double macaw-sized cage (possibly 80"x40"x61" interior), but split in half to accommodate the two birds (it is unclear if this housing situation is permanent, and if it is, this is a very stressful situation as the two birds do not get along and have no means of hiding from each other's view).
However, he claims 2 of the birds are rarely in the cage.
But there's a few problems with this.
- Toucans defecate, on average I would say, every 5-10 minutes, constantly, all day. As they do not have a crop like parrots , they eat throughout all their waking hours and poop on a consistent basis . They can even sometimes eliminate food they've eaten 15 minutes ago . This means that if he is telling the truth, then even with daily frequent cleaning, his house is filthy and gross and possibly infested with fruit flies/ants/other bugs , especially since he lives in the South (personal experience owning a toucan). That is simply not sanitary.
- He is forcing his toucans to sleep outside of their preferred sleeping quarters, a nesting cavity , none of which are present inside or out of the cages.
- It is completely unsafe to allow toucans to free-roam the house without constant supervision, and I mean constant. Simply being 'around' or within the same space isn't enough. They can injure themselves, and far more commonly, ingest small objects and die . His house appears to be a normal house, not an emptied-out specially designed-for-birds living space.
- His house contains a small number of perches and perch-able surfaces. While it might sound appealing that the birds get to "free roam", they naturally prefer to spend little time on the ground . This means the space that is available to them, besides the floor, is not so large.
- It is recommended that the larger toucans are kept outdoors with natural sunlight for optimal health .
- If Afentful wants us to believe these toucans are so well-behaved that they remain still on certain perches and are perfectly content, he has successfully made the argument that they are excellent pets. Otherwise, this housing situation is not adequate.
- Furthermore, if he doesn't believe in caging the birds for long periods, it begs the question, why did he raise money to buy two more "rescue" toucans that may or may not get along with his first toucan within the household or properly adjust to this precarious free-roaming situation that he is dependent on? As he states he "tries to give them as much of a cage-free life as they can possibly have", he sounds like he feels entitled to have the birds even though he does not have the proper enclosure(s) and requires them to be extremely tame and well-behaved (in direct contradiction to them being "bad pets") in order to live well in his home. Furthermore, he claims Beatrix cannot be out as often due to "behavior issues", but these "issues" (aggression, territoriality, flying into walls, ect.) are in fact NORMAL and EXPECTED toucan behaviors  (especially when they are parent-raised ) .
- Afentful could have pursued buying or "rescuing" less expensive aracaries or toucanets that are the appropriate size for his situation, as I did, but he choose to purchase large toucans for his own desires.
|This was Beatrix's quarantine area with papers that were "just changed", to give some perspective on the amount that toucans eliminate. Image used under Fair Use.|
Feeding Toucans Junk for Views
None of Brock Afentful's followers seem to make anything of the fact that he at least once has fed all of his toucans fried chick-fil-a nuggets and Froot Loops. He does this possibly to amuse people, not for "education" and certainly not for the benefit of the birds. While Afentful often states to his followers that toucans like to eat meat, they rarely do this except when raising chicks .
The diet should be as low in iron as possible . Animal protein is high in iron  and toucan owners know to avoid meat entirely if they aren't breeding . However, the Chick-fil-a nuggets are not just meat, but fried and cooked with various spices of unknown suitability for birds. Foot loops are extremely high in sugar, even for humans. Feeding these foods one time (if it was only one time) might not be harmful, but why take the risk with delicate animals like toucans just to get views? This is not only "exploitation", but potentially harmful exploitation.
Furthermore, Afentful's first toucan was fed cooked turkey shortly before her death at 6 years old. Her cause of death was cryptically described as "heart failure" or a "dormant heart issue", which he tries to imply was a genetic issue. Toucans are prone to cardivascular problems, and one cause is a high-fat diet and obesity .
Lying about Toucans being Injurious
Part of Afentful's spiel about toucans making bad pets involved him making a click bait thumbnail about toucans biting and inserting fake blood splatter on top of the image. He seems to rather enjoy presenting toucans as 'raptor-like' perhaps to make himself feel like a daring animal wrangler.
Actually, toucans may have the least injurious bite of any comparably-sized warm-blooded animal that you can possibly own. Their beaks are very lightweight . After prompting his toucan who has "behavior problems" to bite him, he sustained a superficial red spot on his finger, which proves this. Parrots, on the other hand, can break your fingers , but I haven't heard him suggest parrots are bad pets. This is just another great example of the aforementioned paradox. Not many pet owners would induce a bite from an animal that could cause significant harm. If I prompted some of the animals I own to bite me, I would easily end up in the hospital.
Toucan Behavioral Issues?
Afentful suggests Beatrix, the keel-billed toucan, has "behavior problems" and is "not pet quality" despite the fact that she is an adult bird in a new environment being forcibly housed closely to other strange toucans of different species, which is not recommended . I believe her behavior is completely normal and expected, which only further proves my point: Afentful seems to have expectations of birds behaving like tame dogs and when they do not, he considers them to be bad pets. This is entirely the root of exotic pet criticism, i.e. comparison syndrome. People who have incorrect perceptions of animals will label them incorrectly. The fact that his other "rescue" toucan is behaving so well (even before his supposed ample time working with them) is great evidence they make excellent pets for the right owners.
The Bottom Line
Brock Afentful frequently states throughout his Youtube channel that he doesn't believe toucans (and other exotic animals) should be pets while he purchases the birds, actively supporting the trade and making money from showing them of. Therefore they are not rescues, they are assets. While suggesting that only a limited number of people, himself included, have what it takes to care for toucans, his husbandry is questionable and does not follow the recommendations of leading toucan breeders. Afentful appears to make up his own rules regarding not just toucan care, but who is qualified to own them and nonsensical logic that permits him to "rescue" and even purchase toucans while simultaneously siding with animal rights activists so that he can get praised by pro and anti-exotic pet minded supporters, reaping every benefit.
*If any of the information presented here is factually incorrect, please let me know with sources provided.
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