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