Our Mission

The Toucan Rescue Ranch's (TRR) mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and when possible, release Costa Rican wildlife. TRR works with a model that focuses on conservation, education and research so a brighter tomorrow is promised to the incredible animals of Costa Rica's rainforests. 

Who Are We?

Toucan Rescue Ranch (TRR) focuses on the care, rehabilitation and study of Costa Rican toucans and other wildlife. We receive and care for confiscated, sick and injured wildlife from government agencies. TRR gives them a loving home with the goal of providing appropriate medical treatment, rehabilitation and then, when possible, returning them to its natural environment. The Toucan Rescue Ranch is a licensed Costa Rican wildlife rescue facility and a 501(c)3 charitable organization in the United States (EIN: 80-0516453).


The Toucan Rescue Ranch was established in 2004 by Leslie Howle and Jorge Murillo as a rescue center for toucans and other birds. Nonetheless, the rescue center quickly expanded to owls and other wildlife. In 2007, a baby sloth, Millie, arrived and was solely in Leslie and Jorge’s care. Millie is initially what transformed the Toucan Rescue Ranch into to a wildlife rescue. Leslie and Jorge work as a team alongside a small staff, caring for resident rescues and new arrivals. The Toucan Rescue Ranch is a dedicated rescue for Costa Rican wildlife. The organization continues to see opportunities for expansion and betterment. TRR is eager to continue to grow to save more wildlife and implement breeding programs for endangered birds native to Costa Rica’s rainforests.

Our Goals

  • To establish a captive breeding program for all six species of Costa Rican toucans.
  • To accept, evaluate and treat rescued and decommissioned animals in need.
  • To rehabilitate and release injured wildlife back to its’ natural environment.
  • Provide educational programs, research sites and facilities.
  • Provide volunteer opportunities for local, national and international individuals.

Our Team

Leslie Howle

Co-Founder and Director, Leslie grew up in Costa Rica. Her father was one of the first property developers on the Pacific coast, laying the foundation for ecotourism in the Nosara region. Many years later, back in the United States and working as an Occupational Therapist and Outdoor Adventure Ropes course entrepreneur, with her own growing collection of birds she traveled to the jungles of Peru to study wild macaws. This led her back to her roots in Costa Rica in pursuing her lifelong dream of operating a bird refuge center, for parrots and toucans. Later, the bed and breakfast was started as a guesthouse when friends stayed while visiting. Today, Leslie’s vision for a breeding and refuge for toucans has quickly grown into a fully functioning wildlife rescue center. Her care goes beyond toucans and now heals sloths, otters, owls, spider monkeys and much more!

Jorge Murillo

Co-Founder and native of Costa Rica, Jorge lived and worked in Texas, USA in a successful career with Continental Airlines. He was drawn back home after seeking land to start his own farm. While still working for Continental Airlines he met Leslie Howle. Later, Jorge and Leslie married where they founded the Toucan Rescue Ranch in 2004. After several years caring for solely birds he convinced Leslie to rescue the Ranch’s first sloth. That sloth grew up to be Millie and is what initially transformed the Ranch into a full wildlife rehabilitation center. Today, Jorge assists in providing enrichment for the various species under his and Leslie’s care and is even a licensed realtor.

Dr. Janet Sandi Carmiol

Janet is the Ranch’s onsite veterinarian. She obtained her DMV from Escuela de Medicina y Cirugía Veterinaria San Francisco de Asís in 2006. During her studies, she worked with Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary 2005-2006 and interned with the Dallas World Aquarium December 2006 (exotics). Janet interned with the Wimberley Veterinary Clinic in Texas in 2007. She opened her private veterinary clinic in Curridabat, San José in 2008, and became a consultant to the zoo in Playa Bonita, Moín, Limón (Paradero Ecotour) in 2008. At the Ranch she conducts examinations, medical logs, procedures and surgeries. She oversees the overall health of all of the animals in the Ranch’s clinic and property. Her role as a veterinarian has evolved into more management tasks since obtaining her MBA.

Carol Friesen

Carol has worked and volunteered all over the world including countries such as Malawi and Philippines. Carol came every Saturday for a few years helping the Toucan Rescue Ranch prepare the various diets for the rescued wildlife of TRR. Since her earlier years at the Ranch her position has evolved into an administrative role. Now she works at the Ranch part-time as the Business Administrator managing financials, assisting with technical work and conducting tours.

Jerry Jennings

Jerry is the owner of Emerald Forest Bird Gardens and serves as a Director on the Toucan Rescue Ranch Board of Directors. He is one of the largest breeders of birds including toucans in the world. Jerry has been involved in numerous research projects, funded conservation studies, and has received numerous first breeding awards. Jerry is continuously called on by the Ranch for toucan breeding advice and so forth. He also worked closely with Mazuri to develop a special pellet for toucans. This pellet we now provide to the rescued toucans of the Ranch to ensure they have a healthy protein diet. Jerry has continually supported the Ranch financially in projects that help expand our operations.

Pedro Felipe Montero Castro

Pedro Montero Castro is the Ranch’s tour guide and onsite biologist. He graduated with a bachelor’s in Biology from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica and has a Master’s in Sustainable Development from the Universidad para la Cooperacion Internacional. He has worked at other rescue centers and research based nonprofits such as The Sloth Institute of Costa Rica. Native to the country he’s worked closely with the country’s fauna. He is an experienced tour guide and aids the Ranch in taking the public on educational tours of the wildlife facility. Pedro manages the Ranch’s enrichment schedule for the resident animals and helps with other various administrative tasks.

Ivette Sirias

Ivette Sirias lives in Costa Rica and works as a full-time employee at the Toucan Rescue Ranch. She works mostly in the kitchen where she oversees volunteers and helps prepare the food of the Ranch’s nearly 200 animal residents and patients. She has a very important role at the Ranch seeing that all of the animals are fed and happy.

Zara Palmer

Zara Palmer is the Marketing Specialist at the Toucan Rescue Ranch. She was born and raised from Idaho, USA. Zara graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Marketing from Lewis-Clark State College. At the Ranch she manages the Adoption Program, social media, crowdfunding and fundraising events. Zara also assists with administrative tasks and serves as a back-up tour guide.

Storm Heaven

Storm was born in England but grew up in New Zealand where she studied Biology at Victoria University of Wellington and Animal Management at WelTec. She has a special interest in ornithology and is currently furthering her studies in Zoo Biology and Conservation at the University of Salford in the U.K. During her service at the Toucan Rescue Ranch she served as an Animal Specialist assisting with the clinic, animal welfare and husbandry as well as the Release and Education Program. Since enrolling in University she assists with virtual responsibilities such as product design, sales, web and graphic design.

Board of Directors

  • Leslie Howle
  • Cindy DiGesualdo 
  • Carol Friesen
  • Richard Henderson
  • Jerry Jennings
  • Jorge Murillo
  • Sy Sohmer 
  • Terrie Velasquez
  • Company Officers: Leslie Howle: Chair; Bo Statham: Secretary; Terrie Velasquez: Treasurer

Become a Corporate Sponsor

By sponsoring the Toucan Rescue Ranch with a donation, you enable us to continue to provide quality care for rescued wildlife and provide education for professionals, tourists and the community. Your sponsorship will also help us fulfill our mission. In return, you will prominently be promoted throughout TRR’s social media, website, facility and newsletter.

Ways you can Sponsor

  1. Provide an annual cash donation to help with ongoing costs of running the rescue center
  2. Provide in-kind product, such as food, supplies, services, equipment or personnel.



What Benefits you Receive

  • Visible association with a representable rescue center in Costa Rica
  • Commitment to economic and environmental prosperity to Costa Rica’s wildlife
  • Fostering a culture of philanthropy in conservation
  • Enhancement of the reputation and philanthropic profile of your corporation
  • Access to potential partners for your corporation
  • An initiative to establish Cause Marketing within your company

The Toucan Badge

$10,000 Annual Donation

The Sloth Badge

$5,000 Annual Donation

The Owl Badge

$1,000 Annual Donation

Toucan Badge Sponsors | $10,000 Annual Donation

The Emerald Forest Bird Gardens is a signature supporter of the Toucan Rescue Ranch. Owner and Founder, Jerry Jennings, has worked closely with Leslie Howle in building a successful toucan breeding program for release. As well as, sponsors many of our enclosures and expansions at our Release Site. 

Ways Emerald Forest Bird Gardens is helping:

  • Provides funds for new enclosures on the property
  • Provides knowledge regarding toucan diet, behavior and breeding 
  • Provides grant opportunities as well as various other funding  

To Learn more about EFBG you can visit their website: www.emeraldforestbirdgardens.com

The Wags and Menace Make a Difference Foundation that seeks to provide medical treatment for sick animals in Colorado, the United States, and global funding to organizations and activities that benefit animals, and to inspire, teach, and motivate other individuals and organizations to achieve similar objectives. 

Ways Wags & Menace is helping:

  • Provides funds for our clinic to help pay for medical procedures 
  • Provides needed supplies for our clinic such as medicines, bedding, and so forth
  • Seeks to provide resources to ensure that recovering wildlife in our clinic see a successful recovery

To Learn more about Wags & Menace you can visit their website: www.wagsandmenace.org

Toucan Rescue Ranch and TouCanvas.com has partnered together! TouCanvas donates a percentage of sales with each purchase on their website. TouCanvas also features a special collection of TRR animal photos for purchase - a larger percentage of sales is given to TRR. 

Ways TouCanvas is helping:

  • Make a purchase from TouCanvas.com, and a portion of every sale is donated to the Toucan Rescue Ranch.
  • Purchase a canvas from the Toucan Rescue Ranch collection, these are actual animals that are helped by the Ranch, and we will give a larger portion of the sale to the Toucan Rescue Ranch.

To purchase high quality canvases from TouCanvas you can visit their website: www.toucanvas.com

Grandfathered In Sponsors

Become a Sponsor Today!


  • The Sloth Classroom Enclosure

    Help us build a Sloth Classroom for the rescued high schooler sloths!

  • #PapayaisLife Ongoing Fund

    Please help us continue to expand and better our wildlife rescue facility! By donating you’re contributing monies to purchase medical supplies and various other needed materials for the ongoing needs of our animal patients and residents. Together we are making a difference.

  • X-Ray Ongoing Fund

    The X-Ray Fund helps expand and equip Toucan Rescue Ranch’s medical treatment This fund aids injured and orphaned birds and animals to receive the needed treatment and care and provide an environment that gives them the best chance at recovery and release.

  • Education Center

    The Toucan Rescue Ranch provides educational tours to the public as well as various workshops to MINAE officers, firemen and policemen. We also invite local schools for talks and invite vet and medical students for clinical hours and other educational courses. With the growth of our Education Program we need a facility that will allow us to comfortably operate this very important program.

  • Sloth Pre-Release Enclosure | Completed

    Why We Need YOU: Join the Toucan Rescue Ranch (TRR) in raising funds for our rescued adult and orphaned sloths! This fundraiser will allow us to build a pre-release enclosure for our Sloth Release Program at our Release Site in Sarapiqui, Costa Rica.

  • Emma’s New Playground | Completed

    Since Emma first came to the Ranch she has grown… a lot! The current enclosure she lives in does not suit her need to swim and run. She’s a very active animal who requires a lot of space to run and swim. A new enclosure for Emma would allow her to be herself at her fullest capacity.

  • Owl Mews Campaign | Completed

    The Toucan Rescue Ranch raised funds to help build mews (enclosures) for owls. We currently have seven species of owls: Mottled, Bare-Shanked Screech, Striped, Tropical Screech, Black and White, Spectacled and Pygmy owls.

The goal of the Education Program is to contribute to the protection of our wildlife and increase awareness of conservation issues.

Education Programs

  • Training of forest rangers, police, and firemen in the identification and habits of rainforest wildlife as well as the proper handling of wildlife and first aid for wounded wildlife workshops.
  • Conducting public tours that include valuable wildlife and conservation information.
  • Holding sessions with school classes at the Ranch at local schools and via Skype with schools in other countries.
  • Workshops with medical and veterinary university students.


School Programs

The School Education Program is tailored to each class depending on the age of the students and the curriculum. We can conduct a single session or plan multiple sessions throughout the school year.

We can do a general session on the rainforest and its wildlife as well as sessions with a specific topic. The teacher can provide the topic.

Suggested topics are:

  • Sloths
  • Toucans, Macaws, Parrots
  • What are the dangers to our rain forests and wildlife

30 minute session with Co-Owner Leslie Howle, who provides the primary care for babies, injured birds and animals. During the lesson, Leslie will talk about the topic, show the children some of the animals and give them an opportunity to ask questions.

(NOTE: If you have a large group and want to schedule multiple sessions, they will need to be on different days. The size of the group depends on the display equipment available.)

“I am super impressed that The Toucan Rescue Ranch, Veterinarian Dr. Janet Sandi, and The Sloth Institute have joined forces to create an incredibly strong multidisciplinary team. Each brings a unique expertise to the problem of rehabilitating and releasing sloths making them uniquely qualified to take on the daunting task of getting injured Costa Rican sloths back in to the wild. I am looking forward to following their progress.”

-Donald Brightsmith Assistant Professor of Ecosystem Health Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Texas A&M University Director of the Tambopata Macaw Project www.macawproject.org

Breeding Program

The Breeding Program

The Toucan Rescue Ranch only breeds birds that can be released. For example, toucans that cannot be released due to injuries or who have been around people for too long are candidates for the breeding program.  After a DNA test to determine gender, the toucans are paired and placed in one of our breeding enclosures. With the parents here to raise the babies, the offspring are able to be raised wild and not become familiar with humans. Once the bird has reached a mature juvenile stage, the toucan is moved to a pre-release enclosure where it learns to fly, eat natural foods it would find in the rainforest and learn about its predators.

With Emerald Toucanets we learned a lot about breeding: nest logs, diets, duration of babies in the nest and much more. We are applying what we learned to the other species such as the Chestnut-Mandibled, Collared Aracari and Keel-Billed toucan, where we will hopefully be successful in breeding for eventual release.

We also have an owl breeding program where Striped owls, Pygmy owls and Mottled owls have bred.  Since these owls are from our area, they are trained and released right here at the Ranch. We have found that the releases have been tremendously successful and we are excited to be able to introduce native owls to our area.

Making History

The Toucan Rescue Ranch is the first in Costa Rica and second in the world to successfully have captive bred Emerald Toucanets! Due to this incredible feat we have applied this knowledge to our other toucan species. We have found a gradual incline in breeding success at the Ranch.

We have been the first to have a captive bred, parent raised Keel-Billed toucan (see below). Additionally, we are seeing progress with our toucan pairs and they are beginning to mate and hatch babies. Stay connected with our newsletter for ongoing successes with our breeding program!


General Information

Toucan Rescue Ranch (TRR) focuses on the care, rehabilitation and study of Costa Rican toucans and other wildlife. We receive and care for confiscated, sick and injured wildlife from government agencies. TRR gives them a loving home with the goal of providing appropriate medical treatment, rehabilitation and then, when possible, returning them to its natural environment.

The Toucan Rescue Ranch is a licensed Costa Rican wildlife rescue facility (A Costa Rican Foundation: 300667701803) and a 501(c)3 charitable organization in the United States (EIN: 80-0516453); ALL donations are tax deductible. 

How You Can Help

Toucan Rescue Ranch is constantly looking for support. There are a dozen different ways you can help the Ranch with its efforts. Depending on what you’re interested and how you would prefer to help you can consider the following options:

  • Donate towards our operating costs
  • Donate towards a specific cause via crowdfunding
  • Donate medical supplies
  • Create your own fundraiser
  • Visit the Ranch and stay in our Bed and Breakfast
  • Take a tour and meet all of our wildlife
  • Volunteer your time and work with the Ranch for a month or more
  • If you’re coming to visit, bring toucan pellets or other important dietary materials

Together we are making a difference.


Common questions and everything you need to know when visiting

If you have any concerns please read this collection of frequently asked questions before contacting us. If you are still unclear about something feel free to contact us at info@toucanrescueranch.org.

As a rescue center our first concern is for the animals. Being handled by people they don’t recognize, primarily through smell, is very stressful for sloths. So while we cannot let you hold wildlife, your experience will be personal and special.

Toucan Rescue Ranch is located in San Josecito of San Isidro of Heredia. It is 15 minutes from the town of Heredia, 35 minutes from the airport and 15 minutes from the Capital, San Jose the cap.

As a rescue center, we only allow access to people with a tour or guesthouse reservation. Please refer to the TOUR or GUESTHOUSE reservation pages to confirm visitation dates.

The Ranch is located in the highlands, San Jose region at 4,500 feet. Green season is during the months of May to November. During this time we advise you to bring a sweater for nights, a rain jacket and a flashlight. Layered clothing is best, especially during rainy season.  Dry season is during December to April. You can expect warmer weather. 

The Ranch can arrange a taxi  for early departures and will deliver a continental breakfast to your guesthouse the night before. Taxi prices to the airport are approximately $30. A van is approximately $35. 


How far is

All locations below are in reference to Toucan Rescue Ranch

1 hour & 15 minutes (great trip for bird watching).

2 hour drive..

Estimated 7 hour drive.

35 minute drive (aerial tram & hiking).

Approximately 30 minutes. 

The Cloud Forest, La Paz Waterfall Gardens

The Cloud Forest, La Paz Waterfall Gardens

The Crater, Poas Volcano

The Crater, Poas Volcano

Manuel Antonio, Pacific Coast

Manuel Antonio, Pacific Coast