Toucan Rescue Ranch
- Location : San Isidro de Heredia
- Altitude : 4,560 feet above sea level
- Area : 2 acres
- Hours : Tours by reservation only
- Telephone : 2268-4041
- Entrance Fee : $15 per person
In 2004, on a two-acre parcel of land in San Isidro de Heredia, Leslie Howle and her husband opened one of the country's first toucan rescue centers licensed by MINAET (the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications). The Toucan Rescue Ranch functioned as a private rescue center until 2010, when a failing economy encouraged the couple to open their doors to the public.read more close
The rescue center receives injured and sick animals from around Costa Rica, providing medical care and rehabilitation to each. Howle's professional background is in occupation therapy, and her expertise is evident: she has taught an owl amputee to hop down a ladder to find food, raised orphaned sloths, and provided not just physical but psychological rehabilitation to an abused spider monkey. Animals that have not imprinted on humans and that are able to make a full recovery are released into the wild; those that cannot survive on their own have a forever home at Toucan Rescue Ranch.
Tours, which are available in English and Spanish with advance reservation, introduce visitors to the resident wildlife. More than 100 birds live at the Toucan Rescue Ranch, among them the namesake toucans, as well as owls, parrots and macaws. Sloths, a Mexican tree porcupine, monkeys and other animals also make their home at the ranch. The owners have a farm in the Sarapiqui region near Braulio Carrillo National Park, just an hour from the ranch. The farm serves as a safe area for rehabilitated animals, where sloths, songbirds, a curassow, oropendola and others have been successfully released. Birdwatching tours ($45 person) are available.
The Toucan Rescue Ranch depends on donations, tour revenue, and profits from their onsite bed and breakfast to provide continued care to animals in need. Animal "adoption" is also offered, and participants may adopt sloths, toucans, parrots, porcupines, owls or macaws. Volunteers are accepted for a minimum of two weeks at no cost. Homestays with local families run about $25 per day, including all meals.
The rescue center has several enclosures that recreate the animals' natural habitats. The ranch owners also run a successful emerald toucanet breeding program, and their long-term goal is to open a toucan breeding facility.
Temperatures in San Isidro are temperate, and usually reach the 70's or 80's during the day. During the green season (May-November) and transitional months (April & December), rain gear is recommended.
From San Jose, take Route 32 north toward Guapiles. When you reach San Isidro de Heredia, turn left after Las Orquideas Restaurant. Drive eight blocks west and pass over two bridges, then turn right at the toucan totem pole and drive two blocks north. Please call in advance to arrange a tour.