NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Toco Toucans – many of us in America were introduced to their pictures on the boxes of the cereal “Fruit Loops”. But they are native to Central and South America, and the Nashville Zoo has two of them on display, with hopes to breed more in the future.

“We have Ava and Paco,” explained Olivia LaGrand, Nashville Zoo Avian Keeper. “Ava is nine years old. She’s our female, and Paco is our two-and-a half-year-old male. So he is our new one.

“Miss Ava is quite the Diva. She loves people. She does a lot of meet and greets with people because she’s just really friendly and really gentle and just really enjoys the attention and being around a lot of people. Paco, he is a teenage boy. He’s got a lot of space right now. He’s kind of learning his manners and he’s just very energetic. So he’s figuring everything out right now. He’s got a lot thrown on his plate right now with a new area, meeting a new girlfriend and just kind of getting used to his new life. So he’s a bit of a spicy boy, but we love him.”

And like many couples, they had to be introduced to each other.

“We took them off exhibit to introduce them in kind of a more neutral environment,” LaGrand said. “We took about five days with them kind of doing slow deductions, which with toucans, they aren’t just going to fall in love right away. It’s going to take some time so they do a lot of what’s called bell sparring, which you’ll see them do one exhibit where they’re just slapping beaks together, and it looks kind of aggressive, but it is a play behavior. It’s also a courtship behavior. The male has to show the female that he is worthy of her attention. He’s got to show her that he is strong and a good healthy mate for her, and it does eventually turn into more of a playful interaction. But at first, it can be pretty aggressive as they’re kind of showing each other who’s boss.”

So who needs to end up being the boss?

“You know, it can kind of depend,” LaGrand explained. “Toucans co-pair when they have chicks, and they do stay with their mate for life. So, Ava I think will probably end up being the boss in this relationship, especially since she’s a little bit older and more experienced, but they’ll end up being pretty equal partners.”

And of course, the goal is to one day have some baby toucans.

“So we would love to have chicks,” LaGrand exclaimed. “Paco as I said is only about two and a half years old, and they don’t really reach their maturity until they are about three. So, he’s getting to that point where he’ll be ready to start breeding. His birthday is about the same as hers in May. So, we’ll about this year. It’s not impossible, but it’s not likely. It’s more likely going to be the year after that we’ll really be able to expect some chicks.”

So, next time you are at the Nashville Zoo, head over to the “Critter Encounters” exhibit and say “Hi” to Ava and Paco. They’ll be glad to see you!