CAPE MAY — The Cape May County Zoological Society needs the public’s help in naming their newest species, a pair of Toco Toucans, one male and one female at the Cape May County Park and Zoo.

What do we know about the toucans?

The pair of Toco Toucans was born at the Dallas World Aquarium and are part of the AZA’s Species Survival Plan, said Dr. Alexander Ernst, veterinarian at the CMC Zoo.

“The birds were deliberately paired to take advantage of their genetics. We built a brand new habitat at the zoo specifically with the intention of breeding these beautiful birds,” Ernst said.

The toucan couple is currently being kept inside their building while the zoo puts the finishing touches on an outdoor habitat. The habitat was built so that zoo guests could see these birds even when they are indoors.

“Once we finish up with the outdoor habitat, we will be able to let them outside most days even through the winter. This is much harder than you’d think for a tropical rainforest bird,” Ernst explained.

He said both toucans are very laid back. The male was actually hand-raised so he is quite friendly and enjoys training with his keepers. The female? Well, she’s a little more stand-offish, Ernst said.

How does the naming contest begin?

The toucans need a name! For Round 1 of this naming contest, simply donate $5 and submit your best names. The zoo will select the top favorites, and Round 2 will allow you to donate $1 per vote to pick your favorite.

All proceeds will go towards the mission of the Cape May County Zoological Society. The organization said it is putting a focus on raising funds for capital projects planned for this year, and into the future of the park and zoo.

Some projects include enhancements to the animal habitats throughout the zoo, upgrades to the park services and grounds, and improvements in enrichment experiences to increase visitor engagement.

At last check $185 has been donated through the naming contest. The goal is $1,000.

More information about the naming contest can be found here.

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at

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