Get to know all about us

Our Mission

The Toucan Rescue Ranch (TRR) mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release Costa Rica wildlife. TRR works with a model that focuses on conservation, education, and research to ensure a brighter tomorrow for Costa Rica wildlife.

Who is the Toucan Rescue Ranch

TRR emphases on the care, rehabilitation, and release of national wildlife. We receive and care for confiscated, sick, and injured animals from government agencies. The Toucan Rescue Ranch works closely with the Ministry of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica (MINAE) who brings injured and displaced wildlife to the center. TRR provides sanctuary while giving treatment, rehabilitation, and when possible, release to their natural environment. We specialize in toucans, sloths, and owls, however, we have a large array of wildlife from weasels, porcupines, cats, kinkajous, parrots, and so forth.

Some History

The Toucan Rescue Ranch (TRR) was founded in 2004 by Leslie Howle and Jorge Murillo. The original intention of TRR was to rescue, rehabilitate, and release Costa Rica toucans. MINAE (wildlife governing agency) noticed the success TRR had with toucans and began bringing various bird species. In 2007, when a baby sloth given the name Millie arrived, TRR transitioned into a full-time, multi-species wildlife rescue facility that specialize in toucans, sloths, and owls. TRR receives, cares for, and releases a wide range of species.

TRR Goals

  • To establish a captive breeding program for all six species of Costa Rican toucans.
  • To accept, evaluate and treat rescued animals in need.
  • To rehabilitate and release injured wildlife back to its’ natural environment.
  • Provide educational programs, research sites, and facilities across Costa Rica.
  • Provide volunteer opportunities for national and international individuals.

Timeline & Milestones

The sloth release efforts have grown. TRR receives many orphaned sloths each year. Thanks to TRR’s continued partnership with Café Britt and The Sloth Institute, TRR can acquire tracking equipment for more sloth releases. This equipment enhances the Saving Sloths Together project and enables both institutions to monitor sloth release movements, activities, and intervene if sloths do not appear to be adjusting to life in the wild.


Learn about TRR’s Wildlife Guardians

The Toucan Rescue Ranch is privilaged to work with professionals from all over the globe. Since TRR's humble beginnings, its human capital has grown exponentially. This has allowed TRR to expand its internal and external operations, enabling its mission and vision to cultivate true change. Thanks to this growth, Toucan Rescue Ranch now functions in different locations across Costa Rica due to its diverse team of voluntary and paid-staff positions.

Leslie Howle


As the Founder and Director, Leslie oversees the growth and long-term goals of the foundation. She works closely with the administrative team to ensure that TRR maintains its mission while ensuring company longevity.

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Janet Sandi Carmiol


As the Veterinarian Director, Janet is responsible for providing leadership for the hospital, managing associate veterinarians and assuring regulatory compliance relating to the practice of veterinary medicine.

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Carol Friesen


As the Project Coordinator, Carol maintains and monitors project plans, project schedules, budgets, and expenditures. She organizes, attends and participates in administrative meetings. Carol documents and follows up on important actions and decisions from meetings and strategic plans. 

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Zara Palmer


Zara Palmer is the Marketing Advisor at Toucan Rescue Ranch, hailing from Northern Idaho, USA. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing from Lewis-Clark State College in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Zara began her tenure at the Ranch as a volunteer, progressing to become the organization’s first intern. She has since advanced […]

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Santiago Garcia Dobles

As a Vet Supervisor, he shares the responsibility of keeping a record of all wildlife casualties and correlating said casualties to potential threats that local fauna face. As a part of the Medical Team, he assists in the diagnostic approach such as diagnostic imaging with X-rays and ultrasonography. As well as other diagnostic methods such as laboratory tests. He supports the team with surgical procedures and other therapeutical methods such as the use of regenerative medicine techniques, which include the use of tilapia skin and collagen. Santiago is in charge of the preventive medicine protocols implemented for the welfare of the animals in the sanctuary.

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Andrés Sáenz Bräutigam

Andrés Sáenz Bräutigam is one of the veterinarians for Toucan Rescue Ranch. He started as a volunteer in July of 2014 and worked for Toucan Rescue Ranch in a lot of areas such as being a tour guide, vet and animal husbandry intern, and Toucan Team coordinator. He has always had an interest in sloths but has developed a true passion for them since working at the rescue center.

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Daniel Espinoza


Daniel Espinoza is the Human Resources Manager for Toucan Rescue Ranch, supervises the Education & Ecotourism Team (Owl Team) and assists in the operational management of the Foundation. 

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Tesa Mendoza Blowey


Tesa Mendoza Blowey is the Release Site Supervisor and oversees the last stage of rehabilitation for many animals under our care. She studied Wildlife Conservation Biology at the University of California Davis, where she specialized in animal/human conflicts and wildlife management.

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Andrea Quirós Vargas


Andrea Quirós Vargas is the Tour Coordinator and one of the full-time guides at Toucan Rescue Ranch. She studied Management of Natural Resources in the Universidad Estatal a Distancia (UNED) in Costa Rica.

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Isaac Brenes Jiménez


Isaac Brenes Jiménez is currently studying biology with an emphasis on tropical biology at Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica. He is originally from a town in the south of Costa Rica named Pérez Zeledón. Isaac started working at Toucan Rescue Ranch as a volunteer in April 2021. Soon after, he applied and became an on-call tour guide.
Starting in August 2021, he became the Toucan Rescue Ranch’s receptionist. In this role, he assists the Education Department with phone calls, reservations, attending guests, parking, and general customer service. 

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Stephanie Valle Cubero

+506 8953 3735

Stephanie Valle Cubero is the Environmental Education Coordinator and a guide at Toucan Rescue Ranch. She studied Tropical Biology at the National University (UNA) of Costa Rica and she is getting a Lic. degree on Natural Resource Management at the Universidad Estatal a Distancia (UNED). She is currently doing her thesis on Environmental Education, and she hopes to have a long-lasting impact on the local communities’ view and relationship with wildlife.

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María Vargas

María Vargas is the Marketing Supervisor at Toucan Rescue Ranch. Her responsibilities include managing national brand awareness and local fundraising activities. With over five years of experience in fundraising and crowdfunding, María specializes in social communication, advertising, and digital marketing. She has previously worked with various NGOs and foundations in Costa Rica, where she supported […]

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Ivette Sirias

Ivette oversees daily operations in the outdoor animal kitchen where she advises volunteers and interns on animal diets, food preparation, and general care. She is the reason we are able to keep hundreds of animal residents and patient animals happy and healthy. Ivette has proven to be a crucial role at TRR.

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Laura Mendez


As the Executive Assistant, Laura assists the administrative team by acting as the point of contact among executives, employees, clients, and other external partners. She also helps with managing information flow in a timely and accurate manner. She assists in daily tasks such as payroll, supply orders, and other important tasks to keep the center running!

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Jorge Luis Mercado Ortega


Jorge Luis Mercado Ortega, a proud alumnus of FMVZ-UNAM in Mexico, where he graduated in 2018, has since cultivated a profound career in veterinary and wildlife medicine. His journey in the field began with volunteer positions, including a three-month stint at Dolphin Discovery in the Riviera Maya, Mexico, in 2016-2017, and a month at the […]

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Laura Berry

Laura Berry is the Marketing Assistant at Toucan Rescue Ranch. Her role is to support the Marketing Manager in creating marketing and communications materials, such as social media, fundraising campaigns, email marketing, and media content. Laura, originally from Douglassville, Pennsylvania, graduated from Millersville University with a Bachelor’s degree in science writing and a minor in […]

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Elena Alvarez Sirias


As the Supply and Inventory Coordinator, Elena is responsible for managing orders that involve all departments of Toucan Rescue Ranch. She keeps products, supplies, and materials, to ensure stock for administrative and animal-related needs.

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Alejandra Zumbado Salas


At Toucan Rescue Ranch she started as a tour guide in 2022. She loves TRR because she fell in love with its mission. Having the opportunity to teach people, not only from Costa Rica but all around the world, about wildlife and why people should care for them is something important to her. Her goal is not only to keep educating, but help with the animal nutrition, check on their diets, and help as much as she can with the knowledge on those topics with the animals in the sanctuary and the new arrivals.

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Don Hector Zuñiga Ramirez

Don Hector Zuñiga Ramirez maintains the beauty of plants, outdoor grounds, and trees at TRR. He performs a range of general maintenance tasks including designing, producing, renewing and preserving outside spaces.

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Carlos Hernández


As the Bioterium Administrator, Carlos oversees our live prey production to keep all of our carnivorous diets happy and healthy. He is a valuable help with the maintenance of our facilities, insect production, and deliveries of donations and supplies.

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U.S. 501(c)3 Non-Profit 

Board Members: 

  • Leslie Howle, Founder & Executive Director of Toucan Rescue Ranch
  • Cindy DiGesualdo, USDA Veterinarian
  • Richard Henderson, Attorney
  • Jerry Jennings, Owner of Emerald Forest Bird Gardens
  • Seymour Sohmer, Executive Director, Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Ph.D, FLS.
  • Joan Marie Embery, Conservationist, Public Speaker, and Equestrian

THREE Board Member Vacancies, Email us to learn how to join 

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

U.S. EIN: 80-0516453

Costa Rican Foundation

Foundation Members:

  • Leslie Howle,  Founder & Executive Director
  • Janet Sandi, Veterinarian & Animal Care Coordinator
  • Fabian Pacheco, Ecologist & Environmental Activist
  • Manuel Vega, Accountant
  • Andres Chaves, Municipalidad Employee

Costa Rican Foundation: 300667701803


  • Growing Together, Giving Together

    Since our start in 2004, our mission has been to rescue, rehabilitate, and release Costa Rica’s wildlife. As a grassroots, charity-funded organization that started on our founder’s porch, we have grown so much in such a short time.

  • 8th Annual Sloth Ironman Games

    Watch as your favorite slothlete competes in the 2023 Sloth Ironman Games Series. The series includes a 4-part challenge of enrichment activities. And yes, the fastest sloth wins! All donations made during the Sloth Ironman Games will be put towards each sloth’s release back into the wild. Be on our social media for updates leading up to the event!

  • Call for Artists 2023: Nurturing our Planet

    Toucan Rescue Ranch started an annual art contest in 2016 to raise funds for various projects and programs. In years past, this fundraiser has raised money for new medical equipment, pre-release enclosures, and an education center!

    2023 Toucan Rescue Ranch’s Call for Artists will fund our WildMed Fund for THREE MONTHS. This encompasses medicine, procedures such as X-rays, and medical supplies!

  • #TRRShareYourShot 2023: The Beauty of Nature

    It is time for our 3rd Annual #TRRShareYourShot photography contest! We are excited to bring together photographers and philanthropy to help us accomplish accessibility at our sanctuary!

  • 3rd Annual Call for Artists Fundraiser

    The Call for Artists is back and submissions are OPEN! The theme this year is #OurWildWorld! One of our favorite fundraisers is happening NOW to raise $13,000 to build an Education Center at our Release Site in Sarapiqui, Costa Rica! Our Release Site is integral to our mission of getting animals back in the wild and soon will be a hub for community education.

  • GIVE for #GivingTuesday 2021

    We care for over 200 animals and nearly 50 species of wildlife. That means we have to feed all of the animals constantly. What do the animals love the most? Papaya, of course! Toucan Rescue Ranch goes through nearly 1-ton of papaya in JUST one week. This doesn’t include the various fruits and vegetables that we also provide in our diversified animal diets. Did you know that Toucan Rescue Ranch spends $42,000 each year on JUST papaya?! How wild is that?

  • 6th Annual Sloth Ironman Games

    Watch as your favorite slothlete competes in the 2021 Sloth Ironman Games Series. The series includes a 4-part challenge of enrichment activities. And yes, the fastest sloth wins! All donations made during the Sloth Ironman Games will be put towards each sloth’s release back into the wild. Be on the lookout on our social media for updates leading up to the event!

  • #TRRSHAREYOURSHOT: Wild for Wildlife

    The entire month of June will be dedicated to our 2nd Annual #trrshareyourshot where you can share your wildlife photography with the Toucan Rescue Ranch with a chance to take 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place in both the adult and junior photographers categories. The winners will receive unforgettable prizes (see below) including overnight stays in eco-lodges all over Costa Rica and the opportunity to visit the TRR sanctuary!