Also known as the Rainbow-billed or Sulfur-breasted toucan, it is popular for its resemblance to “Toucan Sam™”, the “Froot Loops®” mascot. The northernmost of the large toucans, it ranges from the Mexican state of San Louis Potosi south to Colombia and Venezuela. Much habitat has been lost to agriculture. Though first hatched in captivity at the Houston Zoo, in 1974, it has not bred consistently in collections. The DWA is involved in a captive breeding consortium for this species involving both private collections and public zoos.
Found in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, this species remains fairly common despite continuing habitat loss and some hunting pressure (toucans are eaten by people in some places). Though presently rare in collections, it was the first of the Ramphastos toucans bred in captivity, in Germany in 1967. It has also set the age record for any member of its family, one having lived 27 years, and another possibly 32 years. The DWA specimens arrived through the cooperation of the Brazilian Federal wildlife agency, IBAMA.
While this bird is still considered fairly common, deforestation is reducing its habitat throughout its range, from Honduras to Ecuador. A particularly noisy toucan, its puppy-like yelps are heard all day in the DWA rainforest. This is another toucan targeted for breeding by the American Zoo community and nearly 40 are distributed among 20 participating collections. The DWA has been one of the few places to so far breed it in captivity.
Dwelling on the edges of forests, along rivers, and where trees are present in savannahs, this huge toucan is the only member of its family commonly found in open country. It inhabits an enormous range, all the way from the Guianas to Northern Argentina. It is the largest and best known of the toucan species and includes grunts in its vocalizations. Over 100 have been hatched in more than a dozen US collections (including the DWA), as part of a coordinated breeding program during the last quarter century.