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Visiting the Toucan Rescue Ranch in Costa Rica

It’s not every day you’re invited to a wildlife rescue ranch in the bio-diverse haven of Costa Rica. We enjoyed an exclusive visit to the Toucan Rescue Ranch on the outskirts of the country’s capital, San José.

The Toucan Rescue Ranch was set up by Leslie Howle and Jorge Murillo back in 2004, Leslie gave up everything in her home town of Reno, Nevada in the USA to help the needy toucans of the Costa Rica rain forests. It wasn’t long after setting up the ranch that the pair began to take in other breeds of wildlife and eventually their first sloth, Millie, back in 2007. Millie ultimately transformed the Toucan Rescue Ranch into a wildlife rescue center and she is still a resident there today.

Carol, our tour guide who left the corporate world behind to help out at the ranch, welcomed us with open arms and informed us that she would be running our special photography tour.

The noises from the rescue ranch were incredible. The screeching toucans, spider monkeys and macaws constantly interrupted Carol and she seemed completely unphased by it all, like a teacher in a classroom full of screaming children.

A beautiful vocal toucan takes residence in the reception area of the ranch giving all visitors a loud greeting.

Toucan rescue sanctuary, Costa Rica
A beautifully nourished Toucan welcomes you to the ranch
Carol told us stories of how each animal ended up at the ranch in as much detail as we requested, some of which had us in tears. First, we met a beautiful mealy amazon bird called Lorita who gave us a loud welcoming to the bird enclosure.
The famous resident, Lorita (Pictured is a yellow-naped amazon, probably her boyfriend Jake. Lorita has a grey patch on her neck. I sent you a photo of her)  I am not sure what you mean by water based enclosures?  Emma's enclosure is currently being built! We will be introducing her into the new enclosure by the end of the month! Thank you for including her campaign!  Found in a new study that sloths actually sleep roughly 10-hours a day, not 18. And now, Ellie is one of the two resident sloths who're being put into our sloth release program.  A Spectacled Owl (Pictured is a Pygmy owl. I can send you a photo of a Spectacled if you want?)   The spider monkeys are actually considered permanent residents. They're given sanctuary here because they would not be accepted by a wild troop if released and therefore wouldn't survive. When talking about releases you can mention our sloth, toucan and other bird release programs!
The famous resident, Lorita
Lorita was brought the ranch because she was a ‘noisy’ pet. She had no feathers on her chest and her feet were completely black from the condition of the small cage she was kept in for around 15 years. Within months of being at the ranch, Lorita’s feathers came back but she refused to leave her enclosure. The ranch staff left her door open under supervision for around a year and eventually she ventured out to explore a world she had never experienced before. Seeing her so happy with the other animals, including her boyfriend Jake, and being able to freely move and play with toys made us crumble inside. Lorita is quite the celebrity with a big following on YouTube, here you can see Lorita taking a bath and enjoying the Costa Rica weather which should give you the same warmth that we experienced being there.

We saw many animals at the ranch that we had never seen before, Pygmy owls, an oncilla, spider monkeys, greater grison, great green macaws, crested caracaras and two types of sloth.

Oncilla Costa Rica, Toucan Rescue Ranch
Tabu, the rescued Oncilla
We visited the wonderful Mexican Hairy Porcupines and Greater Grison, and we met Emma, the lively otter who was recently the subject of a massive fundraising campaign for a new enclosure. The campaign was a great success and Emma will be introduced into her new enclosure very soon.
Mexican Hairy Porcupine, Costa Rica, Wildlife Sanctuary
A Mexican Hairy Porcupine

Keep an eye out on the Toucan Rescue Ranch’s social media pages for fundraisers and information on how you can help out.

Otter, Costa Rica, Wildlife Rescue Sanctuary
Emma the otter
We were later introduced to the two-toed sloths, who are officially the slowest mammals on earth and sleep for around 10 hours a day! Ellie woke up for a tasty yellow flower before going straight back to sleep during our visit. She, along with another sloth, are soon being put onto the Sloth Release Program.

Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica, Toucan Rescue Ranch
Ellie, the two-toed sloth

We saw a number of owls at the ranch, some of the stories are heartbreaking on why they are residing in their new home but being at the ranch is the best reassurance that they are in the very best of hands.

Owl rescue, Costa Rica, Toucan Rescue Ranch
A Pygmy Owl

The rescued Spider Monkeys were very friendly and watched us as we were told stories on how they are considered permanent residents. The Spider Monkeys are given sanctuary at the ranch because they would not be accepted by a wild troop if released, and therefore wouldn’t survive.

Spider Monkey, Costa Rica, Toucan Rescue Ranch
Rescued Spider Monkey watches our tour group pass by

The tour is not only an opportunity to see tropical animals up close, it is also perfect lesson on how these animals live, eat, survive and breed, and how they interact with other species in the Costa Rican jungle.

After tears, heart warming stories, and even delicious Costa Rican chocolate, we packed up our lens kits to leave. Just as we said goodbye, Leslie brought out the baby sloths and invited us to join them while they had their breakfast. We couldn’t believe our luck. We also met Bella, a beautifully elegant teenage sloth who loves climbing, Carol pinpointed her likeliness to a ‘fifth member of the Beatles’.

Sloth Sanctuary rescue, Costa Rica, Toucan Rescue Ranch
Bella the teenage sloth hangs around the reception area

How could a day get any better than breakfast with baby sloths!

Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica, Toucan Rescue Ranch San Jose
Baby sloths waiting for breakfast, we timed our exit perfectly!

Find out what we experienced as part of the ‘Breakfast with Baby Sloths’ tour here:
Picture of baby sloth from the Breakfast with Baby sloths tour in Costa Rica

Booking a ranch tour is one of our recommended top things to do in Costa Rica. If you are planning to see the famous Sloth Sanctuary, be sure to see and support other sanctuaries along the way.
Toucan Rescue Ranch Costa Rica logo
Visit the Ranch’s website here for information on the residents, adoption, release programs and donations.

Contact: [email protected] if you would like any more information.

For more information on Costa Rica, we recommend the following book:

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Toucan Rescue Ranch, Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica

Did we miss anything?
We have derived this blog from personal experience after spending a day at the Toucan Rescue Ranch. Please leave your comments below if you’d like to know anything else.

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