Friday, July 31, 2020

Investigating Maeve the Toucan’s Death (

When it was announced on the 2CanTV Youtube channel that Maeve was dead at one year old, as anyone might have guessed, I was immediately suspicious of Brock Afentful’s husbandry being the culprit. Hearing about the red-billed toucan’s passing really shocked me, particularly due to the timing; I had literally just discovered that Brock had a toucan he never talks about, Zoey the collard aracari, and her disappearance led me to believe that there must be a reason for his silence and the deleted Reddit account where he showed her off. In addition to that, knowing how important the right diet for toucans is, I was irritated that Brock not only fed “junk” food to his current birds, but he also did so with Zoey, and finds it unobjectionable enough to have no problem sharing that information to his fans.

After posting an article and uploading my video discussing Zoey, the news about Maeve was announced days later. Therefore, if Zoey died prematurely, Brock has had 3 of his birds die well below their expected lifespan. That means Brock, proclaimed by himself or one of his fans as “one of the most experienced and educated toucan carers in the country” (and that the rest of us should just “live vicariously through him” instead of owning our own birds), lost 3/5 of his collection at 6 years old and under (the 2 remaining birds were obtained at older ages) not including his newest addition.

I say this not to suggest that he is a “bad” owner, and I take no pleasure from directing criticism at a person who is clearly devastated from losing a pet (I honestly wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy), but obviously, given the statement he has written on his Discord, the substantial funding he is receiving, and most importantly, his condemnation of keeping toucans as pets and exotic pets in general while he thrives doing just that, his operation more than deserves to be under the microscope.

A day or so later, I actually reached out to the facility that Brock obtained his bird from, and based on that conversation, I quickly made another vlog recording. However, after doing so, I came across a wealth of new information that I feel will shed some light on this situation. As usual, no names will be presented here and I will neither confirm or deny anyone's identity unless they wish to be known.
First of all, I spoke on the phone with someone who had private conversations with Brock and also owns a toucan themselves. This person was very adamant that Brock is a bad pet owner, and they believe that even stronger than I do at this point. From them I learned that, yes, Brock's first toucan Zoey did die in his care, and I was told it was due to bumblefoot. If true, this is interesting, as that was the condition Brock had been asking about to toucan "experts" when he posted a video (below) of the bird's injury on Youtube. On his Reddit AMA he told people the bird recovered a year ago, so apparently the condition resurfaced. It should be noted that bumblefoot is a condition that occurs when birds and other animals are kept on the wrong substrate, have improper nutrition, or other lapses in husbandry [1]. I was also told some other surprising things about his care that I would like to wait for definitive proof of before discussing.

Brock’s Claims

At first, I was highly skeptical of Brock’s statement on why Maeve died, which, predictably, exonerates him of all responsibility. His explanation, according to his exchange with unnamed individuals who he referred to as "toucan experts", was that Maeve had stunted growth and development due to being fed a formula intended for parrots. He emphasized that he had suspicions about Maeve’s failure to gain weight at a certain rate and most conspicuously, she had white primary feathers which was not normal for her species, and that it was due to a lack of betacartone.

He claimed the breeder assured him this was “normal” and Brock took that person’s word for it. Brock also said that Maeve had “divits” in her beak that he assumed would disappear as the bird got older, but it worsened. Brock suggested he felt that Maeve was not fully weaned. He was not satisfied with the breeders supposed lack of knowledge about the bird’s weights in the wild and decried the breeder's suggestion that he should “check Wikipedia” (even though the weights on the Wikipedia article come from the publication he mentions [5] and the weights of wild animals generally do not reflect their captive counterparts).

Brock received the results of the necropsy which, to my knowledge, have not been made available to the public, but he shared them with individuals with substantial toucan experience, who deduced that the bird died of a Salmonella infection as a result of being immunocompromised from improper formula and perhaps being sold before she was fully weaned. They also noted that Maeve had hematochromatosis despite having normal iron levels, suggesting her liver was not working correctly. I will go into more detail about this below, but I believe I have contacted one of the individuals who Brock discussed this matter with and have confirmed that this is what he was told. Therefore, I was able to eliminate my suspicions that Brock created this explanation to cover up another cause of death. I still have some concerns, however.    

Both Sides of the Story: Maeve’s Breeder and Caretaker(s)

There were two entities involved with the care of Maeve before she was released to Brock’s care. I was told, and it is also mentioned on Brock’s vlog, that the breeder did not hatch, feed, and raise Maeve, but that this was done at another facility, of which I spoke to a representative of. My overall impression of this facility, which I will not name, is that they come off as professional, the employees are educated in the sciences, and they manage and breed many uncommon and difficult to care for species. I did not directly communicate with Maeve’s breeder, however, it is the care of the birds, and specifically the formula being used, that is under scrutiny by Brock, and this had led to many of his followers, in typical social media reactionary angry mob fashion, to suggest this facility is “cruel” and should be sued or shut down. While one person did communicate with me, I was told that the breeder and the others involved were not interested in engaging in the controversy. The breeder did not respond to my request for comment.

I was, however, informed that Brock was offered either a refund or a replacement bird from the breeder (I only have conclusive evidence of the latter) if he provided proof that his care or the car crash were not involved in the bird’s death by providing the necropsy results that he had obtained, which he apparently refused, and to my knowledge, he still hasn’t provided this information. The question is, why?

As I demonstrated with Zoey, the missing aracari who is now confirmed dead, Brock appears to withhold information that may not present him in a favorable light, and one can’t help shake the feeling that he might wish he could have done the same with Maeve, but she has a solid and inescapable following. Brock not sending the necropsy is particularly concerning, considering in the video where he announced Maeve’s passing, he expressed a serious interest in furthering our knowledge about toucan husbandry and contributing to educational efforts, even going as far as to offer to pay for strangers to get their birds examined should they pass prematurely.

That is a noble cause, so why hasn’t Brock made his bird’s report public? Even if he was only offered a replacement bird from the breeder and didn’t want another animal from them (which is strange, considering he could have "rescued" this bird and kept it from making the breeder more profit), he should send them the necropsy and work with them, hopefully helping them to identify an issue with how the birds are raised and correct it, saving more toucans and helping future owners. He seems to have instead, opted to complain about them in his videos, and even accuse them of callously breeding the birds for profit, disregarding the birds as living things.

Parrot Formula

I have learned, in talking to the representative of the facility where Maeve was reared and the knowledgeable individuals that Brock reached out to with his necropsy results, that not only is breeding toucans very difficult, but so is raising them. In fact, the people Brock reached out to suggest that only “trained professionals” should be raising toucans while they are on formula, and they are vehemently against selling birds until they have been eating on their own for at least 2 weeks (I will discuss in a future post that Brock still went and bought a new toucan after Maeve's passing that did not meet this criteria). Inexperienced individuals may fail to properly monitor the bird’s weights and adjust the food they are getting accordingly, and baby toucans are prone to aspirating their food.

Knowing this, I have many thoughts. First of all, the breeder and the people raising the birds would obviously not be incompetent with animal care considering the challenging nature of toucan rearing. In fact, I wonder why it would be presumed that using parrot formula would cause a bird to spontaneously die at a year old, when there are numerous other variables present, including possible errors in not the type of formula used, but the amount of it and the frequency. Adding more food for thought, there can be other conflicting factors, including how the formula was stored (could it have been damaged by the summer heat?) that just shows that we can’t make conclusive statements about something the breeder or the caretakers did (and we certainly can’t accuse them of knowingly harming these animals for profit).

Furthermore, the parrot formula that Maeve was raised on that is inciting rage among Brock's fans was the formula that many toucan breeders used prior to the recent invention of the Mazuri ® Ramphastid Hand Feeding Formula, including the AZA-accredited Riverbanks Zoo, who developed the 2001 AZA Toucan Husbandry Manual [4]:

"A liquidy diet such as one of the proprietary hand rearing formulas originally developed for parrots is a good source of rounded nutrition. Kaytee Exact Original Formula is a suitable product for this purpose, although any of the other major brands are likely to be equally good."
 Bob Seibels, Curator of Birds / Riverbanks Zoo

While iron storage disease is discussed as a major problem for toucans in the literature, poor development leading to immunodeficiency and early mortality is not. Also, in other countries including those in Europe where the Mazuri Ramphastid diet is not easily obtainable, breeders still use parrot formula, and I haven’t yet found reports of an unacceptable number of their birds having white wings and dying under a year old. In fact, the respected facility whom Brock contacted who are suggesting Maeve’s breeders are responsible for her death utilized a formula that was intended for both parrots and softbills (Mazuri  Hand  Feeding Formula 5TM) at least as recently as 2012, and I was told by them that there were no observed white feathers on this food.

Another toucan breeder with extensive experience stated “Although the Iron in most handfeeding formulas for psittacines is extremely high, it does not seem to affect a baby Toucans liver, as long as they are weaned off it at a very early age. This is probably due to the high iron needs of a growing chick. I make a mix using standard handrearing formulas with a little applesauce, or other fruit added…” [7].

Therefore, Brock and his audiences’ outrage towards the use of non-toucan specific formula seems to be unwarranted.

Nutritional Deficiencies in Exotic Pets

To further expand on the above, it is actually quite normal for formula intended for one species to be used with another; otherwise we’d be pretty limited in what animals we could keep. For instance, you wouldn’t find formula for Chacoan maras, springhares, or spotted genets at Petco, which is why I used KMR kitten milk for all three as instructed. Unfortunately, especially with exotic animals, we have a limited understanding of what the right nutrition is for our pets and lack of interest and funding serves to keep it that way. The fact that most of our pets will probably have some form of nutritional deficiency is a truth that needs to be understood and accepted, and it is not just an exotic pet problem; even immensely popular pets like dogs and cats still have issues with nutrition, like the DCM concerns involving grain free diets.

It’s not unlikely that the Rhamphastid diet that some breeders are demanding be used now will be obsolete in another 10 years. That doesn’t mean that the current diet or the previously used diets are extremely harmful, and suggesting that a formula alone would lead to a bird dying the way Maeve did after she had survived adolescence of which birds are more vulnerable to infection [3][4][7] is something I find suspect.

White Feathers

It should be noted that Maeve had white feathers which I was told indicated a beta carotene deficiency. A deficiency of some sort was acknowledged by the breeder and caretakers in question. The individuals that Brock communicated with have each confirmed that the presence of these feathers may indicate that the bird is having development issues that affect the organs, however they also said “the damage can be repaired to a degree by improved diet.” and that the white feathers have “always been remedied by correcting the diet.” Yet Brock’s red-billed toucan never fully lost her white feathers. The last video where I could see these feathers present (below) was presumably filmed in June 2020. This may suggest this bird, perhaps in addition to a deficiency, had complications occurring that is unique to the cases of the other birds observed by Brock's toucan experts.

Another Cause of Death?

There are numerous variables that make it exceptionally challenging to draw major conclusions from anecdotes. In the case of Brock’s bird, he owned her for 11 months before she passed away, seemingly without warning. We are assuming that Brock adhered to what I consider to be a very simple diet for toucans: Mazuri Low Iron Softbill pellets and 3+ different types of fruit, and we are taking his word for it. Yet we know that Brock also feeds his birds “treats” such as fried chicken, fried shrimp from a po’boy, spaghetti noodles, and even fruit loops. This is why I’ve insisted before that these birds are fragile, and there’s just no point in giving them these foods even if it is in “extreme moderation” as he's said.

Brock’s description of how quickly and easily his bird died was terrifying, and made me go check on my own bird. Does this sound like a species you would want to take any chances with? Keeping in mind, this strange practice of his is only what he chooses to share with us (I also have not watched even half of all his content; there can be issues I have missed). We also have 11 months of care-taking of which we will never know what he does.

It also should be considered that bacterial infections, including those with Salmonella, while I can find a source that cites poor health as a cause of mortality in toucans [2], this infection can also occur in other situations and is actually a common finding in birds [7]. Immunosuppression has other causes besides poor development, notably chronic stress [6], which is a common issue with captive animals. It should be noted that Maeve was forced to spend time in a split enclosure adjacent Brock’s keel-billed toucan Beatrix (above), and their antagonistic relationship was evident in one of the videos. 

Of course, it would be compelling if there were a relatively large number of birds who exhibited the same or similar symptoms as Maeve and died prematurely from causes that can be determined to be a result of immunodeficiency with confidence. I was informed that this was the case but at this time I have not seen the exact number of birds, specific species, or any other pertinent information to confirm this. As of current, I've only seen the white feathers with two red-bill toucans, and this problem may be species-specific.

Even with compromised development, it cannot be ruled out that husbandry error exacerbated an already compromised bird. Therefore, regardless of what caused Maeve’s infection and death of which we will probably never know for sure, I think it is clear they should not be given strange food items for someone’s amusement or forced to live in conditions that are sub-optimal.

Brock didn't take Maeve to the Vet

This is something Brock can't blame the breeder for. As Brock described the issues with Maeve and how his new bird, Rhia, seems much healthier, I pondered why Brock's famous veterinarian, Dr. Thielen, didn't notice that Maeve was underdeveloped and would need supportive care. Then I learned that apparently, Maeve never saw a veterinarian. I see no evidence he took her on his channel, and I was also told this by the person who had private conversations with him.

This is a standard animal care requirement. It should be noted, that not only did Brock not take Maeve to the vet for a wellness exam, which is what new owners should always do, but Brock even suspected that there were problems with Maeve (white feathers, beak, and most importantly, lack of weight gain) and still didn't do so. Surprisingly, he had Maeve when he "adopted" Toupac, and he brought him to the vet, apparently leaving Maeve at home. Why? He gets ample financial support from his fans and these donations are supposed to go towards the care of the birds.

Furthermore, just to add to the evidence that this error that Brock made could have ultimately cost Maeve her life, I have had communications with someone who owns a red-billed toucan from the same breeder, possibly even related to Maeve. This bird, currently young, also has white feathers, as well as the same issues with poor weight gain. This bird was taken to a veterinarian, and it was found that the bird had an intestinal infection. After being treated, the owner has stated the young bird has more energy and seems to be improving.

Could Maeve have had a similar issue? Again, she failed to lose her white feathers, which is physical evidence of a deficiency of some kind that is not resolving. She spent almost a year in Brock's care which was ample time for the problem to be corrected, or at least ameliorated, but Brock remained clueless about her condition and did not seek help. Regardless of what killed Maeve, we know that this is a solid example of poor husbandry.  

Brock’s Statements about the Pet Trade and Why This Matters

Instead of reviewing his husbandry failings, Brock decided to use Maeve's death to exemplify why toucans shouldn't be pets. He essentially blamed breeders for what happened to him, declared he wouldn't be surprised if he loses another bird, and then he proceeded to buy another one for $6500 from an exotic animal broker who I am very familiar with and have purchased from. His actions defy logic, and reveal a special kind of narcissism and hypocrisy that I've seen before, such as with the Youtuber Camels and Friends, who eventually plead guilty to animal cruelty years after I identified her as a problem and received criticism for doing so (a video I made discussing her behavior was also deleted for "bullying" and copyright infringement, because I used a single screenshot of her video). Essentially, when something bad happens, he'll find a way to connect it to the exotic pet trade, which is the same situation with individuals I will discuss in the future, Jamieleigh Womach from Bird Tricks and Chrissann Nickel of the defunct Adventures in Toucanland.

It's sad to think that my posts are even necessary because Brock's contradictions are plainly obvious. However, I am currently receiving criticism for this as well, and since I don't think things will get as bad as they did with Camels, there may be little hope that Brock's followers will ever see the light.


  1. Blair, Jennifer. "Bumblefoot: a comparison of clinical presentation and treatment of pododermatitis in rabbits, rodents, and birds." Veterinary Clinics: Exotic Animal Practice 16.3 (2013): 715-735.
  2. Cubas, Zalmir S. "Toucans: Husbandry and Medicine World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, 2009." Hemoglobin (g/dL) 16: 14-61.
  3. Leger, Judy St, et al. "Toucan hand feeding and nestling growth." Veterinary Clinics: Exotic Animal Practice 15.2 (2012): 183-193.
  4. Seibels, B., and M. Vince. "Toucan Husbandry Manual for the AZA Piciformes TAG Association of Zoos and Aquarium." (2001).
  5. Sykes, J. M. "Piciformes (Honeyguides, Barbets, Woodpeckers, Toucans)." Fowler's Zoo Wild Anim. Med 8 (2014): 230.
  6. Shini, S., et al. "Understanding stress-induced immunosuppression: exploration of cytokine and chemokine gene profiles in chicken peripheral leukocytes." Poultry science 89.4 (2010): 841-851.
  7. Summers, Amado. "Toucans: Success in the Mountains of Northern New Mexico." AFA Watchbird 29.2: 47-55
  8. Tizard, Ian. "Salmonellosis in wild birds." Seminars in avian and exotic pet medicine. Vol. 13. No. 2. WB Saunders, 2004.



  1. Thank you so much for this, as well as your previous entry. I had been suckered in by his tales of woe and tears. But something seemed just really off with him. While I believe he was truly distraught over the loss of now 2 toucans, the details are much more sketchy than I would have believed. I wish more of his viewers/donors could see this.

    1. Wow. I went and read your earlier posts about him. Those comments from "unknown!" That kind of vehemence and vile is personal - it's him for sure. And now I know my gut feeling that something is just not right with the guy was spot-on.

      Not that it matters, but I only found these posts doing a google search on him. I'm not a regular follower of your blog and my feelings on exotic pets probably runs more against than for. But you've definitely done your research, and from what I can gather you know what you're doing. Definitely some impressive sleuthing on him as well. So again, I wish there was a way to pass this info on to everyone throwing $$ at him and make them think twice.

      I don't know jack about toucans. But I couldn't even look at the chicken nugget feeding video because it struck me as a massively bad idea.

      I'll check back to see if you make more updates. Because I'm really afraid for his newest chick, Rhia. :(

    2. You know, I was just thinking the other night, while I was joking when I said "Thanks for stopping by Brock", that person was so angry, so defensive, I began to wonder if it could have actually been him. Imagine if he's THAT kind of person. I have no way to prove it.
      My other website used to reveal the IP addresses of people who commented, and many times I've had people pretend to be multiple people attacking me when it was clear they were the same person, changing their writing style, posting at different times, ect.

  2. Very interesting. Thank you for posting this.

  3. Are u perhaps related to the animallogic youtube channel?

  4. I think we can take several lessons from this:

    1) Nobody is immune to being manipulated. Some people think they are, but that's just their own denial/arrogance. Ask the critical questions, but try to do it in a way that doesn't come off antagonistic. Otherwise you won't get any answers--you'll just get shut down.

    2) I think Brock means well, but he's human, and he makes mistakes like we all do. However, not owning up to them (creating a cover-up situation) only makes things worse. I guess problems taking criticism combined with a potential angry social media mob could move him toward covering up mistakes/poor decisions.

    Cancel culture aside, the truth will often set you free. Even something like "I messed up with my first toucans. I may have messed up with Maeve. I don't want to make the same mistakes with Toupac/Beatrix/Rhia/Lalo. Help me make sure I do the right thing, viewers." would go a long way.

    3) Speaking of mental health issues, pets (or any type of animal companion, whether or not you want to call them a pet) should not be a substitute for therapy. Relying on an animal (or any dependent for that matter) to be primarily responsible for their caregiver's mental well-being is just robbing the animal of their own independence. It's okay for them to be a -supplement- to mental health (e.g.: emotional support pets do this job), but it's no excuse for neglecting their care.

    4) Diagnosing someone with a mental health issue over the Interwebz is never a good idea. We don't have the whole story, and we don't know what's behind closed doors. We can assess based on what that person presents to the public, but it should only be a reflection of that: "In public, this person may be a manipulative narcissist" or "In public, this person comes off as suffering from depression (or some other depressive disorder)". Even then, only a mental health professional should be truly diagnosing people.

  5. One thing that seems strange is that Brock would take Toupac to the vet, but not Maeve (but allegedly lie about doing so). Why is that? It doesn't seem to make any sense. It's not an issue with lack of funds (it could be an issue with poor allocation of said funds). It could simply be a lack of knowledge at the time about a toucan's development.

    I have donated a little bit of money to him after Maeve's death, but after Rhia and Lalo, I've been taking a wait-and-see approach before helping out any further.