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Toucan Rescue Ranch in Costa Rica

What to Do in San José: Visit a Wildlife Rescue Center

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Sloth Photo

Visitors to the Toucan Rescue Ranch can pet sloths, play games with Issy, the spider monkey, and watch toucans feed on papaya and bananas.

Chrissie Long
The Toucan Rescue Ranch is first and foremost a wildlife recovery center, and only subsequently, a tourist attraction. It opened to the public two years ago to help defray the high cost of food and medicine and is quickly becoming one of the most popular animal attractions in the Central Valley of Costa Rica.

Visitors here get an up-close-and-personal look at sloths, toucans, parrots and a monkey and, during a two hour tour, learn the heart-wrenching stories of neglect, abuse and abandonment of each of these survivors.

About the Toucan Rescue Ranch

The ranch is owned and operated out of the home of Leslie Howle, a Nevada-native turned Costa Rican, who started rescuing animals in 2004. She began with only toucans and parrots, and gradually opened her home to other animals at the insistent pleas of friends and her contacts within the Environmental Ministry.

Today, she has a spider monkey, sloths, keel billed toucans, Athena striped owls and a kinkajou at her ranch on the hillside of Heredia, a northern suburb of San José.

Unlike other animal attractions in Costa Rica, a visit to the Toucan Rescue Ranch is much more than rehearsed speeches and a cattle herd-like walk through. Tours of the more than 100 animals and 20 species are very personalized as guests learn the likes and dislikes of each animal and curious habits they’ve developed in captivity as well as their innate character traits.

The cost of the tour is $15 for adults and half price for children.

For those looking for a more extensive experience, the Toucan Rescue Ranch also provides opportunities to see their release farm in Sarapiquí; a full-day guided bird-watching and nature adventure for $45 per person.

Bunk at the Rescue Center

High above the city, in the refreshing mountains of Heredia, the Toucan Rescue Ranch offers one fully-equipped guest house (soon to be two) for guests looking to spend the night. A stay at the Toucan Rescue Ranch guest house is a unique experience as it combines the constant song of parrots, toucans and owls, with the opportunity to hunt for glass frogs in the creek below.

Cozy, but clean, the guesthouse – which can sleep up to five people – comes with a stove, microwave, refrigerator, television and separate sitting area. The nightly rate is $85 for a double and $15 for each extra person. The rate includes an extensive breakfast in the morning.

How to Visit

Tours of the Toucan Rescue Ranch are by reservations only. If you are interested in visiting the Toucan Rescue Ranch e-mail leslieparrot@yahoo.com or call 2268-4041 with a few days anticipation. You can also visit their Web site at www.toucanrescueranch.com.

The Toucan Rescue Ranch also offers volunteer opportunities. E-mail Leslie for inquiries.

~ by Chrissie Long

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