A Release Program to get Animals #Backinthetrees

Released Wildlife & Wildlife Sightings with TRR

About the Sarapiqui Release Site

The Release Site is an ever-expanding component of TRR. TRR has two properties, one parcel of 25 acres and another of 16 acres where the soft release program and interns house is located.  Here, we provide volunteer and internship opportunities for zoology, biology, veterinary, and other wildlife professions to gain hands-on-experience with releasing and monitoring wildlife. TRR also expands the Education Program for the community to inform citizens about the importance of keeping wildlife wild and the influence humans have on the environment.

The Toucan Rescue Ranch has been releasing wildlife at this property for over 10 years. Here, we’ve released toucans, parrots, parakeets, sloths, owls, hawks, falcons, opossums, reptiles, and other wildlife. As a part of the program TRR has large soft-release enclosures that allow professionals to create natural environments in order to train rehabilitated animals natural behaviors and skills to be successful once released into their natural habitat.

We are in partnership with The Sloth Institute of Costa Rica to help further the research and release of captive-raised and rehabilitated sloths. TRR also works with a handful of other centers across Costa Rica that have species specific release programs to ensure success for that animal.

Release Candidates VS. Permanent Residents

What Makes a Good Release Candidate?

An animal that is brought to TRR with prior instincts and the knowledge of surviving in the wild is likely for release. Such cases are adult birds and mammals that undergo full recovery from injuries and exhibit behaviors that prove the animal will be successful in the wild. These behaviors include foraging for food, proper movement and strength when climbing, walking, flying, etc., fear of humans (not habituated), and strong instincts. TRR also releases toucan offspring from the breeding program.

ALL releases candidates and locations are a collaborative decision and agreement with TRR administration, TRR veterinarians, and Costa Rica's wildlife governing agency (MINAE).

Why do you have Permanent Residents?

An animal that is brought to TRR with severe injuries that will prevent it from eating, hunting, climbing, flying, foraging or supporting itself independently in the wild is considered unreleasable. TRR has an extensive Release Program for orphaned sloths, various bird species, and other small mammals. Animals that are desensitized to humans due to human interaction (like being kept as a pet) are considered unfit for release. This is because animal risks being captured and reintroduced into the black market as an illegal pet and could face animal neglect and abuse. As well as, have the chances of dying due to insufficient understanding of wild behaviors. Examples of non-releasable animals are parrots kept in someone’s home, an owl that has a missing wing, monkeys brought as orphans and do not have a troop to be released with, etc.

Partnered with The Sloth Institute of Costa Rica

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. www.theslothinstitutecostarica.org.

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.

Why do Sloths Need Help?

Historically, sloths have been a highly successful arboreal species however, growing human interactions and development in Costa Rica have made it difficult for them to thrive.  As humans move further into the forests and coastlines, destroying natural habitats, sloths have been negatively impacted and greater numbers are dying. Couple this with the growing social media trends and publicities, sloths are faced with more threats to their survival than ever before. While Costa Rica sloths are not yet ENdangered, they are IN danger and need our help before it’s too late.

The Latest Release Program News

  • Tough Love: Re-Wilding an Orphaned Tamandua

    …For the last month, I’ve had the great privilege of working at the Toucan Rescue Ranch (TRR) Release Site in Sarapiquí, Costa Rica, to re-wild an orphaned female juvenile Tamandua mexicana. Her name is Pebbles. In March, at just one month of age, Pebbles’ mother was severely wounded by a passing automobile. Tragically, Pebbles and her mother are not the only victims: roads are one of the biggest threats to tamanduas, according to the IUCN…

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  • Everything You Need to Know about the TRR Share Your Shot Fundraiser

    …The goal of this fundraiser is to firstly, raise the money needed to build these toucans the enclosure they deserve and to continue to support our toucan breeding program in years to come. Secondly, to inspire photographers around the world to share their love of animals and wildlife with us!

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  • Monsters, Inc., Mike & Boo

    First of all, I’ll answer the question that you’re all thinking. Yes, Mike and Boo were named after the two loveable “Monsters, Inc.” movie characters. These two juvenile Mexican hairy porcupines arrived separately in June of 2018. Mike came first, and Boo followed. During their time in the TRR clinic, these two developed a special bond, much like their respective characters in “Monsters, Inc.”…

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Courses Offered:

  • Animal Handling Workshop – Targeted for forest rangers, police, and firemen to teach how to properly handle certain wildlife such as raptors, parrots, sloths, monkeys, etc.
  • First-Aid Workshop – Targeted for forest rangers, police, onsite interns, and firemen to teach rescue approaches and techniques for critically injured and young wildlife.
  • Educational Public Property Walks – Informative lecture and walk of TRR and its rescued wildlife for national and international audiences. The goal of these educational walks is to focus on conservation issues and proactive steps to maintain healthy relationships with wildlife and the environment.
  • University Shadowing/Workshop – Colleges from around the globe visit TRR to learn from our medical team, as well as, take note about the care and rehabilitation of exotic wildlife.
  • Local School Lessons – We host various student groups of all ages teaching students about wildlife conservation, biology, and environmental research.
  • The Virtual Classroom – TRR brings Costa Rica to your classroom wherever you may be located. We do meet-ups and discussions with teachers and classrooms of all ages from all over the world. We use Skype to give a virtual walk of the property and explain the wildlife rescue process.

Teaming Up with Exploring By the Seat of Your Pants

Exploring By The Seat Of Your Pants aims to inspire the next generation of scientists, explorers and conservationists. We do this by bringing science, exploration, adventure and conservation into classrooms through virtual speakers and field trips with leading experts across the globe. Since starting in September 2015 we've run well over 1,000 live events and connected hundreds of thousands of students to scientists and explorers in over 60 countries. Best part of all, it is and always will be 100% free for classrooms everywhere!

There's this silly rumour going around that there's nothing left to explore or discover, this couldn't be further from the truth! New technology is opening up countless opportunities in the fields of science and exploration. We believe these experiences inspire students while exposing them to important issues, amazing places, exciting role models and new career paths. ​

How it Works

Each month during the school year we host 25+ Google Hangout events for classrooms. ​We regularly host full day, week and month events focusing covering themes like oceans, biodiversity, women in science, space exploration, ocean plastics, climate change and more. We send textbook sized satellite BGAN units around the world with scientists and explorers so they can video broadcast into classrooms from the most remote regions of the planet.

Working with Toucan Rescue Ranch

Toucan Rescue Ranch and Exporing by the Seat of your Pants Founder, Joe Grabowski, have teamed up to bring Toucan Rescue Ranch and its rescued wildlife to classrooms across North America! We will be planning a monthly classroom visit with Exploring By The Seat Of Your Pants accompanied by a Toucan Rescue Ranch knowledgable guide to teach about one of the world's favorite animals: sloths. In this 40-minute virtual classroom visit we will be teaching sloth natural history, fun facts, sloth rescue, rehabiliation, and release with Saving Sloths Together program, accompanied with a special Q/A at the end of each session!

Visit Exploring By The Seat Of Your Pants Website

Explorer Classroom with National Geographic Explorer Filipe DeAndrade

Classroom Programs

The Virtual Classroom

Topics Frequently Requested

  • Based on a specific species such as sloths, owls, or toucans
  • Conservation issues
    • Deforestation & habitat loss,
    • Illegal pet trade,
    • Human encroachment,
    • Climate change
  • A general virtual tour of the property accompanied by individual rescue stories and animal facts

Skype Format
A 30-minute session with a TRR biologist, who has extensive knowledge about the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of Costa Rican wildlife. During the lesson, the biologist will talk about the focus topic and show the classroom animals. There will be a Q&A at the end of the lecture.

Onsite Classroom Visits

We regularly have local schools visit TRR from all over Costa Rica! We are always pleased to open our gate to future conservationists, biologists, zoologists, veterinarians, and naturalists. If you are a parent or teacher interested in visiting our center, please send us a proposal of what you wish to accomplish to info@toucanrescueranch.org.

If you have a large group and want to schedule multiple onsite sessions, they will need to be on different days. The size of the group depends on seats available. The School Education Program is tailored to each class depending on the age of the students and its curriculum. We can conduct a single session or plan multiple sessions throughout the school year.

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

“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 www.macawproject.org

The Breeding Program

The Toucan Rescue Ranch only breeds birds that can be released. For example, toucans that cannot be reintroduced back into the wild due to injuries or that are habituated to 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, Barn Owls, Pygmy owls and Mottled owls have bred.  Since these owls are from our area, they are trained and released at TRR headquarters. 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 National 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 TRR.

We have been the first to have a captive-bred, parent raised Keel-Billed toucan. 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 for release!

Toucan Rescue Ranch is constantly perfecting its toucan breeding program. In 2019, we had an exceptional breeding season and have hand-reared three keel-billed toucan chicks. All three of these healthy birds are integrated into a toucan release program where they will be taught foraging and hunting behaviors. As well as, gaining flight strength and adopting appropriate behaviors. Follow us on social media for #ToucanTuesdays to learn more!