• 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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  • The Sloth Journal’s

    Latte, Female Two-Fingered Sloth Age: 2-years, 4-months Place of Origin: Guapiles Current Weight: 3.2 kg Nicknames: Gretchen, Mothership Special Abilities: Cuddling with babies, transporting sloths between planets Latte is an adult surrogate mother to the Ranch’s baby sloths, a fact made evident by her significantly larger mass when sitting among her foster children. While unfortunately not releasable due to health-related factors, Latte serves as an important security blanket to the younger babies. Latte’s maternal instincts were discovered after Chispa (who had arrived to the Ranch with her mother) became orphaned after her mother passed from a seizure, devastating the hapless baby. Around the same time, Latte had lost her companion Mocha. Hoping to calm the heartbroken sloths, Chispa and Latte were paired together. To their caretakers’ joy, Latte reached out to Chispa and drew the distraught baby close to her body for comfort. Since then, Latte’s role as mother sloth has been set in stone. Oftentimes, many of the babies shamelessly pile onto Latte, even occasionally obscuring her from view. Even while taking leisurely strolls along the bamboo-climbing frame, Latte will sometimes have a baby or two in tow. While Latte may stick out among her tiny companions, the role she plays at the Ranch has been hugely significant for any distressed baby.   Happy #SlothSunday!    By sloth nanny and intern Mitch Deskovick | You can learn more about updates like this by subscribing to our newsletter! 


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  • The Sloth Journal’s

    Bowie, Male Two-Fingered Sloth Age: At least 9-months Place of Origin: Sarapiquí Current Weight: 1.2 kg Nickname: Bowie Special Abilities: Snuggling with Latte As one of the younger sloths, Bowie seeks comfort from the snuggly warmth of Latte, with whom he is almost always cuddling. Like Ringo, Bowie enjoys hitching a ride on Latte during her occasional romps on the climbing frame- sometimes even double-teaming the poor surrogate mother with their combined weight. Curious in nature, Bowie enjoys grabbing onto his unsuspecting caretakers while delivering his signature “blank stare”. Previously, Bowie had a fairly aggressive temperament and would approach innocent bystanders with a swipe, a hiss or a bite. Once removed from the rest of the gang however, Bowie will whine and pout until he is reunited with mommy. Thankfully, Bowie’s tough-guy façade seems to have come to an end (possibly after Latte had a talk with him about loving your neighbor). Since then, Bowie keeps his feisty habits to a minimum but will still complain if separated from the coziness of the chairs. Happy #SlothSunday and you can symbolically adopt your favorite sloth by visiting our Adoption Program!  By intern Mitch Deskovick


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  • The Sloth Journal’s

    Chispa, Female Two-Fingered Sloth Age: 1-year, 3-months Place of Origin: Tortuguero Current Weight: 1.4 kg Nickname: Cheese Puff Special Talents: Sticking her tongue out and perhaps teleportation   The only girl of the high school kids, Chispa (and definitely not Cheese Puff, as some people have confused her name for) sticks out among the babies with her… tongue, which can often be seen poking out of her ever-so-slightly agape mouth. Perhaps Chispa’s most noticeable facial feature, however, is her left eye, which is almost completely shut. After her mother fell out of a tree and landed on concrete, Chispa sustained a blinding eye injury. Despite this handicap, Chispa is one of the most independent sloths of the bunch. As a silent underdog of sorts, Chispa often picks off food that the other babies are yet to notice, and has occasionally been seen sleeping alone hanging upside down a lá wild sloth. Chispa has also gotten into her share of precarious situations. One day, Chispa was found clinging onto a light fixture high up on the ceiling of Leslie’s porch all by her lonesome. It’s likely that she climbed from the safety of the sloth rocking chairs and made her way up to the ceiling using a variety of objects (ropes stretching across the porch, a broom leaning against a pillar, low hanging cables, etc.). This goes to show that despite whatever handicap an animal patient at the Ranch may have, they still have a chance at release into the wild, and Chispa has proven to be no exception. There is also the slim possibility that Chispa is secretly capable of teleportation, though this is yet to be witnessed firsthand. Happy #SlothSunday!  By intern and sloth nanny Mitch Deskovick | You can read more about TRR updates on our newsletter! 


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