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.
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  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.
"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."
Nutritional Deficiencies in Exotic Pets
Another Cause of Death?
Brock didn't take Maeve to the Vet
Brock’s Statements about the Pet Trade and Why This Matters
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- 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.
- Summers, Amado. "Toucans: Success in the Mountains of Northern New Mexico." AFA Watchbird 29.2: 47-55
- Tizard, Ian. "Salmonellosis in wild birds." Seminars in avian and exotic pet medicine. Vol. 13. No. 2. WB Saunders, 2004.