Release Program to get Animals #Backinthetrees

Released Wildlife & Wildlife Sightings with TRR

The Release Site

The release site is expanding and enabling the Ranch to release more wildlife! The Ranch has two properties, one parcel of 25 acres and another one measuring 16 acres where our farm house is located.  Here, we provide volunteer opportunities for zoology, biology, veterinary and other wildlife professions to gain hands-on-experience with releasing and monitoring wildlife. We also conduct  an education program for the local area to inform locals about the importance of keeping wildlife wild and the influence humans have on our ecosystems.

A Release Candidate VS. Permanent Residents

Release Candidate:

An animal that is brought to the Ranch with prior instincts and the knowledge of surviving in the wild is likely for release. Such cases are adult raptors, sloths and other birds that are brought in with minor injuries that can be treated and quickly released. Also, toucan offspring in our breeding program are release candidates. However, it is important to note that process of release depends on the collaborative agreement of Leslie, our veterinarian and MINAE on whether the animal is releasable.

Permanent Resident:

An animal that is brought to the Ranch with severe injuries that will prevent the animal from eating, hunting, climbing, flying, foraging or supporting itself independently in the wild. As well as offspring or orphans that have little to no prior knowledge gained from parental guidance for proper diet, habitat and behaviors. However, we do have an extensive Release Program for orphaned sloths, toucans, and raptors. Animals that have desensitized to human interaction are considered unfit for release. This is because that animal risks being captured and reintroduced into the black market as an illegal pet and could face animal neglect and abuse. 

Partnered with The Sloth Institute of Costa Rica

Saving Sloths Together

The Sloth Institute (TSI)’s vision is to expand scientific knowledge and education about the sloth to enhance their well-being and assure their conservation here and on this planet. 

The Sloth Institute’s 3 part mission:

1)  RESEARCH of captive and wild sloths.

2)  COLLABORATION with other institutions that work with sloths around the world.

3)  EDUCATION to generate and disseminate responsible and balanced information about sloths to the public.

In 2017 Toucan Rescue Ranch and The Sloth Institute came together to form Saving Sloths Together (SST), a Costa Rica wide project seeking to provide greater opportunity for sloths in need. By combining each organization’s skills and knowledge we are able to improve the process of sloth rescue, rehabilitation and release in Costa Rica.  This partnership utilizes scientific expertise, dedication, passion and decades of experience to provide the very best program for every sloth needing help at gaining a second chance at a life in the wild.

The goal of the Education Program is to contribute to the protection of our wildlife and increase awareness of conservation issues.

Education Programs

  • Training of forest rangers, police, and firemen in the identification and habits of rainforest wildlife as well as the proper handling of wildlife and first aid for wounded wildlife workshops.
  • Conducting public tours that include valuable wildlife and conservation information.
  • Holding sessions with school classes at the Ranch at local schools and via Skype with schools in other countries.
  • Workshops with medical and veterinary university students.


School Programs

The School Education Program is tailored to each class depending on the age of the students and the curriculum. We can conduct a single session or plan multiple sessions throughout the school year.

We can do a general session on the rainforest and its wildlife as well as sessions with a specific topic. The teacher can provide the topic.

Suggested topics are:

  • Sloths
  • Toucans, Macaws, Parrots
  • What are the dangers to our rain forests and wildlife

30 minute session with Co-Owner Leslie Howle, who provides the primary care for babies, injured birds and animals. During the lesson, Leslie will talk about the topic, show the children some of the animals and give them an opportunity to ask questions.

(NOTE: If you have a large group and want to schedule multiple sessions, they will need to be on different days. The size of the group depends on the display equipment available.)

“I am super impressed that The Toucan Rescue Ranch, Veterinarian Dr. Janet Sandi, and The Sloth Institute have joined forces to create an incredibly strong multidisciplinary team. Each brings a unique expertise to the problem of rehabilitating and releasing sloths making them uniquely qualified to take on the daunting task of getting injured Costa Rican sloths back in to the wild. I am looking forward to following their progress.”

-Donald Brightsmith Assistant Professor of Ecosystem Health Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Texas A&M University Director of the Tambopata Macaw Project

Breeding Program

The Breeding Program

The Toucan Rescue Ranch only breeds birds that can be released. For example, toucans that cannot be released due to injuries or who have been around people for too long are candidates for the breeding program.  After a DNA test to determine gender, the toucans are paired and placed in one of our breeding enclosures. With the parents here to raise the babies, the offspring are able to be raised wild and not become familiar with humans. Once the bird has reached a mature juvenile stage, the toucan is moved to a pre-release enclosure where it learns to fly, eat natural foods it would find in the rainforest and learn about its predators.

With Emerald Toucanets we learned a lot about breeding: nest logs, diets, duration of babies in the nest and much more. We are applying what we learned to the other species such as the Chestnut-Mandibled, Collared Aracari and Keel-Billed toucan, where we will hopefully be successful in breeding for eventual release.

We also have an owl breeding program where Striped owls, Pygmy owls and Mottled owls have bred.  Since these owls are from our area, they are trained and released right here at the Ranch. We have found that the releases have been tremendously successful and we are excited to be able to introduce native owls to our area.

Making History

The Toucan Rescue Ranch is the first in Costa Rica and second in the world to successfully have captive bred Emerald Toucanets! Due to this incredible feat we have applied this knowledge to our other toucan species. We have found a gradual incline in breeding success at the Ranch.

We have been the first to have a captive bred, parent raised Keel-Billed toucan (see below). Additionally, we are seeing progress with our toucan pairs and they are beginning to mate and hatch babies. Stay connected with our newsletter for ongoing successes with our breeding program!