• Esmeralda’s Rehab Journey

    I happened upon Esmeralda in my first week at the Toucan Rescue Ranch (TRR). She was clumsy and uncoordinated- the kind of animal I'm normally drawn to- so I instantly felt connected to her. As time went on, I learned she had come from the illegal pet trade, but there wasn't much else known about her history. She didn't fly and spent all of her time on the floor of the enclosure, struggling to grip or perch on branches. Once witnessing this, I made it my mission to get her perching and exercising her little feet. To encourage her to exercise her foot muscles, we spent time building low climbing structures she could navigate to reach her food bowls. More time passed, and her confidence slowly built as she managed to hop from branch to branch. Esmeralda was then moved to an enclosure with many small trees and a dirt floor. This was great for two reasons. She was able to hop between the lower branches of those small trees and continue to build strength in her feet, and secondly, the dirt floor allowed her a much better grip. Now, when I enter the enclosure, I see her hopping confidently without tripping and she is hard at work carving and decorating a nesting log recently added into her enclosure. I cannot express how special it is to see an animal grow and gain so much confidence in their abilities. Esmeralda is one of the reasons I chose to extend my volunteer stay here at TRR. It's animals like her that remind us to stay positive and keep persisting no matter how hard life is. By former volunteer Talia Harris 


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  • The Sloth Journal’s

    Age: ~ One year and nine months Place of Origin: Guapiles Current Weight: 2.5 kg Nicknames: Chai Picante, Nosferatu Special Talents: Adventuring, sleeping like a vampire   Chai is the eldest of the high school kids (perhaps his size alone being the giveaway). The black coloration of his limbs and body and his habit of sleeping like a vampire give him a gothic theme. While Chai is yet to transform into a bat and fly off into the night, he has an adventurous spirit and will boldly venture off the comfort of the rocking chairs. Chai will descend to the floor, pick a direction and go, even if it’s straight into a wall. As Chai nears maturity, he begins to display adult sloth behavior like hanging on the climbing frame by himself to sleep. In the not-too-distant future, Chai will be heading out to the ranch’s release site to pursue a degree in wilderness studies, and eventually, join his wild companions in the jungle. Meanwhile, his caretakers will be sobbing uncontrollably as they watch their oldest son begin the next chapter of his life. They grow up so fast. *Sniff* You can symbolically adopt a sloth by visiting our Adoption Program!  By intern Mitch Deskovick


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  • Tabu the Endangered Oncilla

    The Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus) sometimes referred to as a tiger cat, is one of the smallest felid species in the Americas. Their coat is typically a light brown colour with dark brown/black splotches as such they are often mistaken for Margays or Ocelot although they are considerably smaller weighing on average 1.5 to 3 kg. Oncillas live nocturnal lives in thick vegetation, making them difficult to find and thus little is known about their lives. They are good climbers however they typically hunt ground-dwelling prey, mostly small rodents but also lizards, birds and invertebrates. Studies have shown that in areas with a higher concentration of larger cats eg. Ocelots and Pumas the Oncillas became more active during the daytime, possibly to minimise competition. Oncillas are considered vulnerable by the IUCN with threats including poaching for its fur and deforestation for coffee plantations, cattle ranching and agriculture. In the wild Oncillas have a lifespan of about 11 years, however they have been know to survive up to 20 years in captivity. Oncillas are rarely found in captivity with only 2 individuals, both male, in captivity Costa Rica. Tabu is thought to have originally been kept as a pet, however he is now able to relax in the sun and practise his stalking skills as a resident at the Toucan Rescue Ranch. By former intern Katie Grant


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  • Why Enrichment is SO Important

    [In the picture above. Pablo, a volunteer, offers Izzy a customized paintbrush so she can become her very own Picasso.] The happiest animal is a free animal. The Toucan Rescue Ranch (TRR) and everyone that works here truly believe that. The goal of our organization is to keep animals free. The bulk of our animals arrive to our doorstep injured, sick or defenseless due to the direct or indirect action of people. Our first task is to heal them and try to release them, but a number of these animals are in such a shape that they couldn't survive in the wild. That's where TRR comes in. The rehabilitation center in San Josecito is where we keep our permanent residents and do our educational tours. It provides us with the means to keep the operation going while also helping us teach people how to prevent more issues with wildlife. While our Sanctuary conditions provide an optimal learning opportunity for our visiting humans, it can be bleak for our residents. In captivity, animals designed to survive in the ever-changing wild, now have to make little effort to survive. With their every need taken care of, animals tent to get restless, so we work hard to ensure our animals are engaged, entertained and enriched. The goal of our enrichment program is to make sure our residents do not go stir crazy and to encourage wild behavior associated with good mental health. Enrichment may vary from hiding their food to providing puzzles. Some examples include bathtubs for birds to encourage wild behavior, fruit burritos and food inside cardboard boxes to encourage foraging, new smells and live prey. Keeping animals free is our primary goal but keeping those who cannot be released happy and healthy is also a top priority. Stay tuned to our social media to learn more about our ongoing enrichment program  and for updates on our animals. By Biologist Pedro Montero Castro


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  • The Sloth Journal’s

    Toffee, Male Two-Fingered Sloth Age: ~ 1-year, 9-months (slightly younger than Chai) Place of Origin: Cartago Current Weight: 1.4 kg Nicknames: Tito, Totoro Special Talents: Eating Level of Fluffiness: 10/10   Toffee is by far the fluffiest sloth at the ranch. One would imagine that he is the heaviest among the babies. It may appear so when you see him eating more than the other babies or racing them to get his share of milk before anyone else. But in reality, the hair only makes him appear as such. Once he is picked up to be fed or taken for a potty break, he is probably as heavy as Chispa. His extreme fluffiness makes him an adorable teddy sloth, but his dedicated caretakers must ignore the urge to cuddle with him. He is a release candidate and must be treated and trained to be a wild sloth alongside pals Chai and Chispa. Once Toffee becomes a wild adult sloth, his fluffiness power will be put to use to get sloth ladies and continue his legacy in the wild. Happy #SlothSunday! You can symbolically adopt sloths like Toffee by visiting our Adoption Program!   Article by intern Ana Maria Villada | Read more of these articles by subscribing to our newsletter! 


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  • Izzy Makes a New Friend

    It's difficult to not fear monkeys after being chased down by a group of macaque monkeys at the tender age of seven and, then again at the age of 20, being trapped in a bathroom by a large male patiently waiting for me outside the door. Needless to say, I've been traumatized by monkeys and held a fear for them my whole life. So you can imagine the day I arrived at the Toucan Rescue Ranch to see adult spider monkeys. I was quite surprised and very nervous. A few weeks went by and I plucked up the courage to begin helping with the spider monkeys morning and afternoon feeding. If I got a little too close, both Izzy and Noelia would reach through and grab chunks of my hair, taking my dignity with it. I was determined at this stage to conquer my fear and decided I would slowly work towards gaining their trust. In the afternoons, I would take them treats and after a period of time they started to warm up to me- Izzy in particular. I am now at the point where Izzy will anticipate my arrival at the enclosure and she will come down to greet me, following me as I manage their feeding and care. I've learnt that spider monkeys are very intelligent and can sense fear in people. As my fear disappeared the bond between us grew and I'm very grateful for having had this special time with her here at the Ranch. You can ADOPT Izzy or animals like her by visiting our ADOPTION page!  By former volunteer Talia Harris | Read more about volunteer's experiences by subscribing to our newsletter! 


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  • A Day in Rocky’s Quills

    Hola my spiky amigos, My name is Rocky and the humans tell me that I am a baby Porcupine, whatever that is. All I know is that I am small and spiky and I love nibbling on corn. I´m not sure how I got here, but thank God I did. I remember being a very happy baby Porcupine. My mummy and I were living in a place full of little humans. I think you call it a school. I liked living there. I would listen to the tiny people playing and laughing while I cuddled with my mummy. But one day, the humans were much too close and much too loud. They were all around me and I was scared. Where was my mummy? I don’t know what happened.  Maybe I fell? I can’t remember but I was all alone, surrounded by humans and my mummy was gone.  I was so afraid. I cried. I used to cry a lot when I first lost my mummy. Luckily, a nice man who wasn't afraid of my spikes, bundled me up and brought me to this safe place. When I arrived I remember hearing the most loving sound- my new human mummy´s voice. Her name was Leslie. Leslie gave me lots of love and care and made me feel safe again. There are other people here that care for me too and they come and visit me every day. They bring me food and they talk to me. One human in particular loves to spend time with me. She comes almost every day and she talks to me and feeds me corn. She´s not afraid of my spikes either. She encourages me to sit up like a big boy and hold the corn myself to eat it, I drop it a lot but she always picks it up and hands it back to me. The only thing is, she talks funny- not like the rest of the humans, I´ve heard people say she is all the way from England so maybe that´s why. But it´s ok because I know she loves me. For a while I’ve been living in my own cage but I know there are other, bigger porcupines around me. I can hear them.  A few days ago my cage was opened and now I get to roam around with my bigger amigos. I must admit, when I was feeling brave, I would sometimes make a run for it when the humans brought me my food. My escape never lasted long before the humans returned me to my safe cage. At first I was afraid to leave my cage, but one night I decided I had to be a brave boy and climbed all the way to the top of my new big house where the big Porcupines live. Their names are Merry and Pokey. Pokey sleeps all the time but Merry reminds me of my mummy. I think she will take care of me.  The humans tell me that one day when I am big enough and strong enough, I will be released back into the wild. That´s very exciting!  But for now, I am very happy in my home with all of these humans that love me. I am safe and I am very lucky my human mummy Leslie found me.  I hope you enjoyed my story but now I must go, I see my humans coming with corn. Until next time my spiky amigos. You can adopt animals like Rocky by supporting our Adoption Program!  By former volunteer Robyn Shimwell | You can read more articles like this one on our newsletter, subscribe today! 


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  • TRR Inspired Me to Become a Vet Tech

    Before coming to Costa Rica I was working a full-time desk job and working towards a psychology degree. I had considered changing my degree to something geared toward wildlife rehabilitation but I didn't want to make such a drastic decision without first dipping my toes in the water.  I came to the Toucan Rescue Ranch (TRR) in July, 2016, with a plane ticket to go home exactly 30 days later. That changed about a week into my visit. I immediately fell in love with the ranch and knew that I wanted to stay and contribute here for as long as possible. Spending everyday with these animals gave me something that I had never felt before.  After speaking with some of the veterinarian volunteers, I decided it was time for me to make the change and work towards a degree focused on saving animal lives. TRR has completely inspired and motivated me. The best part about it all is that I get to continue working for the ranch while going to school. The experiences and practice that I see daily at TRR have helped me tremendously in my studies. By intern Mackenzie King | Read these types of articles first on our newsletter! Subscribe today! 


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  • The Sloth Journal’s

    Lenny, Male Two-Fingered Sloth Age: ~ 10 months Place of Origin: Tilarán Current Weight: 1.6 kg (he probably hadn’t gone to the bathroom yet) Nickname: Toffee Jr. Special Talents: Holding his bladder Level of Fluffiness: 8/10   Lenny is the second-most fluffy baby sloth in the group. At first, it may appear that he is jealous of Toffee’s fluffiness, but he’s really just enjoying his Level 8 status. Unlike Toffee, Lenny has an entirely different superpower- holding his bladder for extended periods of time. As the days pass, Lenny’s belly expands in size with each meal until he sports an impressive sumo wrestler stomach. When the time is right, Lenny will unload a mighty… well, we can spare you the details. As with Toffee, sloth nannies must not be tempted to cuddle the exceptionally fluffy Lenny. Fortunately, Lenny is not terribly fond of being picked up, and will remind anyone that attempts to handle him with a not-so-friendly bite.   Happy #SlothSunday!    You can adopt sloths like Lenny by going to our ADOPTION page and symbolically adopting him!    Written by intern Ana Maria Villada | Read more stories like this on our newsletter! 


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  • Tiger Lily the Lesser Anteater

    The Lesser anteater or Tamandua (Tamandua Mexicana): Anteaters are very curious and tend to cover very long distances looking for food. Their technique is simple- sniff around to find food, attack the nest, tree or any bug filled substrate, with their claws, make a hole big enough for the tongue to fit and go to town on the bug buffet. The initial assault takes the insects by surprise, but they quickly mount their defense and start protecting themselves. The thick coat of the anteater helps keep them safe for a bit, but soon, they are overwhelmed and must move on. The process immediately starts all over again as there’s no time to rest when you need to eat 9,000 insects a day. To achieve this goal, they will hit from 50 to 90 nests. They move in a straight line to ensure they attack new nests and catch the bugs by surprise.   The long distances that they have to cover put them at risk since we humans tent to build roads everywhere, thereby segmenting their territories. Crossing a road is probably the deadliest activity an anteater attempts. If they’re lucky, they can cross quickly to the other side without any interruptions. If they’re not and they see a car coming, they will panic. Sadly, these animals are far too brave for their own good and will try to fight the oncoming car. White with a colored vest, anteaters are the most elegant of the bug-eating animals that we care for. And Tiger Lily, named after the princess from Peter Pan, piles on immense amounts of cuteness to her elegance. She came to the rescue center when she was a tiny baby. We don’t know exactly what happened to her mom, but she was an orphan near a road and needed help. She was a feisty anteater and refused to eat. Little by little, we gain her trust and now she loves milk so much that she practically bathes in it. Lily is less than a year old and is following a successful program that we have implemented before. First comes the milk. Then we spice it up with insectivore (food for bug-eating birds) then we add some termites to the milk. Next, we introduce a termite nest and if she passes this test, then she can go to a tree to find her own food. This, of course, would be the ideal way to do it, but when working with wildlife, ideal is synonym with, “in your dreams. Now we have an anteater that is a great climber, loves fruit and milk, but won’t touch a bug. Maybe she’s vegetarian, some suggest. She’s about seven-months old and our plan is to release when she’s one-year old, so the clock is ticking and we will be working non-stop to make sure she can live up to her species name. By Biologist Pedro Montero Castro


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