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.

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.

Ana María Villada Rosales

Ana María Villada Rosales is the Ranch’s resident and traveling Veterinarian. She graduated from Vet school from the Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico and has a Master’s in Conservation Medicine from Murdoch University, Australia. She has worked at zoological collections in Mexico and rescue centers in Australia working mainly with wildlife since graduating University. She oversees the clinic and overall treatments of injured animals, also oversees the caretaking of the sloths and their advancements  within the sloth release program. When needed she travels between the Toucan Rescue Ranch’s Release Sites and headquarters for treatments and preventive medicine for the animals.

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.

José Pablo Delgado Fernández

After working for 15 years as a surf instructor and naturalist tour guide in the Nicoya Peninsula, Jose has moved from the ocean to the mountains of San Isidro de Heredia. Here is where he found an opportunity with TRR to get involved in Wildlife Conservation, one of his life passions.  As the Ranch’s receptionist he greets our guests and assists in coordinating the Volunteer Program and its daily operations. Jose Pablo also enjoys guiding the various Ranch tours and sharing his knowledge and experience of native wildlife with all our visitors.

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.

Costa Rica Foundation Members

Costa Rican Foundation

  • Janet Sandi, Veterinarian & Manager of Toucan Rescue Ranch                              
  • Leslie Howle, President Member                                                                                 
  • Jorge Murillo, Co-Founder of Toucan Rescue Ranch                                                   
  • Manuel Vega, Accountant                                                                                            
  • Andres Chaves, Municipalidad Employee                                                                       

Costa Rican Foundation: 300667701803

U.S. Board of Directors

U.S. 501c3 Nonprofit Board Members: 

  • Leslie Howle, Co-Founder and Owner of Toucan Rescue Ranch                            
  • Cindy DiGesualdo,USDA Veterinarian                                                                                                            
  • Carol Friesen, Business Administrator of Toucan Rescue Ranch                               
  • Richard Henderson, Attorney                                                                                                 
  • Jerry Jennings, Owner of Emerald Forest Bird Gardens                                                
  • Jorge Murillo, Co-Founder and Owner of Toucan Rescue Ranch                            
  • Seymour Sohmer, Executive Director, Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Ph.D, FLS.            
  • Terrie Velasquez, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Company Officers: Leslie Howle: Chair; Terrie Velasquez: Secretary; Vacant: Treasurer


  • Saving Sloths Together

    In 2017 Toucan Rescue Ranch and The Sloth Institute Costa Rica created the Saving Sloths Together (SST), a Costa Rica wide project seeking to provide greater opportunity for sloths in need. By combining each organization’s skills and knowledge we are able to improve the process of sloth rescue, rehabilitation and release in Costa Rica. This partnership utilizes scientific expertise, dedication, passion and decades of experience t o provide the very best program for every sloth needing help at gaining a second chance at a life in the wild.

  • 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.

  • 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.