Toucan Rescue Ranch (TRR) is a nonprofit organization founded in 2004 by Leslie Howle and Jorge Murillo. We focus on rescue, rehabilitation, and release of Costa Rican Wildlife. TRR receives animals that have been electrocuted on power lines, rescued from the animal black market trade and animals that have been abused or kept as pets for many years. Toucan Rescue Ranch has different programs including a Reforestation Program, Release Program, and an Education Program.
Around 60 percent of all the animals that we rescue come here because of direct human impact. This is why the Education Program is so important – because we can reduce this percentage by not only educating children of all ages but also adults about the importance of wildlife in the world and why it is not a good idea to have them as pets or in captivity.
The current Education Program focuses on schools around the Central Valley of Costa Rica, where the main cities and towns are located. We receive schools in our Education Center, where we give them an educational tour that includes a tour of the rescue center and educational activities. The students and parents will learn about what animals we rescue, why they are here and what they can do to help them. We receive children of all ages, from as young as 2 years old to 17 years old, as well as their parents, with activities tailored to each group.
This year we are starting with a new educational program that involves local schools and the community from San Isidro de Heredia where our headquarters is located as well as the community surrounding our Release Site in Sarapiquí. This program includes different stages and activities where students not only come to our center but representatives of TRR go to the schools to discuss what environmental topics are most important to them, focusing also on the animal black market trade and wildlife abuse. TRR will also implement a new type of visit called an Enrichment Workshop. This type of educational tour will include enrichment activities where the students bring materials like toilet paper rolls, wood, and ropes to make toys and animal enrichment for the animals. The students will learn why it is important to keep the animals happy and healthy and what the consequences of having them in captivity are while also creating enrichment for the animals.
TRR is also planning to do community activities where members of the nearby community will join us for an educational walk and activities to teach them what to do in case of finding an animal injured or in captivity. We are also implementing virtual classrooms so people and students from all over the world will join us to learn about the animals and what they can do from home to support wildlife and support the organization.
This blog was written by Toucan Rescue Ranch’s Education Coordinator and Lead Tour Guide, Daniel Quintanilla Mendoza. Daniel is a biologist focused on conservation and graduated from the Universidad Latina in Costa Rica. Daniel has been volunteering at TRR for almost three years and now as a staff member. His passion for the wildlife in Costa Rica and conservation has lead him to many volunteer programs in the country; including working with sea turtles in the Pacific and with high school students helping them in conservation and biology projects.