Using a 3-D printer, zoo employees construct a prosthesis for an injured bird.
At the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., staff members are concerned with the feeding difficulties of Karl, an Abyssinian ground hornbill living in the cheetah exhibit. Hoping to restore his ability to eat normally so they can breed him, they come up with a solution for his broken bottom beak. They mend it using a pattern from a museum skeleton and 3-D printing technology. A number of recent titles for young readers describe the work of humans to make lives better for injured or abandoned animals. Unusually, here the special focus is on the process: the complicated and painstaking repair of Karl’s lower beak, including the construction of its replacement part. Thoughtful design makes this very clear: Illustrations cleverly combine actual photographs with drawings and diagrams, printed in blue and white like blueprints. Readers see Karl in his enclosure, before-and-after close-ups, and the veterinarian, exhibits specialist, and exhibit curator (all white-presenting) who work together to restore the beak. There are also photos of the printing process as well as sanding and gluing the new bill. The straightforward text introduces the bird, explains how hornbills use their beaks in the wild, and follows the process step by step. Backmatter includes more facts about hornbills in the wild and about Karl in particular as well as a glossary with unusually helpful definitions.
For fans of animal-rescue accounts and 21st-century technology. (Informational picture book. 5-9)