Toucan Rescue Ranch – Costa Rica

In the morning of November 7th we started from La Fortuna, early in the direction of San José. Near there is the TRR (Toucan Rescue Ranch). The people there not only take care of toucans, but also of injured or orphaned animals of all kinds. There are sloths, monkeys, a river otter and other mammals. There are also many different kinds of birds, from toucans to falcons, owls and parrots.

There are two possibilities: A two hour walk where you can learn the stories of the animals that live there permanently and a variation where you can see two “teenage” sloth at breakfast and get a lecture from their keeper about sloths in general. In addition, one gets coffee and juices as well as pastries. We actually wanted to take the cheaper option, but unfortunately it was already fully booked. In retrospect we are glad, because otherwise we would not have gotten a lot of information. With the stories and things we learned, we continue after a little detour. 🙂

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Back to the ride 😀

Kris and Julia took us to Liberia on Monday, we had rented a car there. Since we had never done that before, it was quite a fuss. We didn’t know that you can’t use debit cards and also didn’t know that the providers block a deposit on the credit card. I still don’t understand why this is done either. At least not if you book fully comprehensive insurance without excess. But well. We have learned a lot during the process. 😀

The drive from La Fortuna to the Toucan Rescue Ranch should take about 2.5 hours. Our tour was supposed to start at 13:30, so we wanted to leave at 10 o’clock so that we had one hour buffer. You never know …

Mucki dawdled around again and so we left at about 10:15. The beginning went well, there was not much going on and we made good progress. But unfortunately this would change. First a construction site stopped us, it took a few minutes and didn’t shocked us yet. Then, however, it suddenly went only steeply up the mountain. The TRR is at about 1500 meters, La Fortuna at about 270 meters.

It started to rain heavily and there were more and more trucks on the road, some of them could only do 5 km/h on the ascent. We became agitated and of course the worst case occurred. Suddenly we had to stop completely. While they were going down the mountain in two lanes (what the hell is that?), suddenly nothing worked on our lane. Our buffer melted away, every few minutes we could drive a few meters, but then it was foreseeable that we would not make it on time. Since there was no signal there, we couldn’t call and tell them. The mood was accordingly quite low. 🙁

At some point it finally went on. A broken truck had caused the traffic jam. After we had passed it, it became foggy to make it even worse and the rain did not really stop. Finally we arrived with about thirty minutes delay. The people there are very, very nice and extended the lecture for us and repeated some things, so that we also had some benefit. Thanks a lot for that!

Now we’ll continue with the animals of the Toucan Rescue Ranch. 🙂

The sloths

Let’s start with the sloths, because we have learned most about them here. There are two different species, the two and three-fingered sloth. In English the name is not very meaningful, because there they are called two- and three-toed sloths, although both species have three toes. Only the number of fingers, which are actually long claws, differ.

Of course there are other differences, but to make sure that the whole thing doesn’t get too long, we will only list a few. There will be another article with sloths soon, because we did a hike in La Fortuna where we saw some of them as well. 🙂

Another important difference is the nutrition. While the TwoFF (two-fingered sloth) feeds on leaves and fruit, insects, bird eggs and chicks, and lizards, the ThreeFF (three-fingered sloth) really only eats vegetable food. TwoFF therefore also have 4 pointed teeth, which the ThreeFF lack.

What was really surprising for us is that all sloths are quite aggressive. Especially towards humans. The injured sloths that need treatment and care are usually tamed with up to five people. Both species have very aggressive bacteria in their mouth and digestive system. A bite can therefore cause serious infections. The founder of the Tucan Rescue Ranch almost lost an arm herself after a bite. If you see a sloth on the road, you should not try to carry it. You stop the traffic and wait until it has crossed the road. Their long claws can also cause serious injuries!

Many sloth that come here have either been hit by a car, met dogs (these fights often end in serious injuries even for dogs), or suffered a blow to one of the many uninsulated power lines and capacitors. The power lines are unfortunately also a problem for other animals, for example monkeys. Only a very small part of the power lines and capacitors are insulated. There is an urgent need for action!

Toucans and other animals of the Toucan Rescue Ranch

As already seen in the pictures above, there are many more animals. For example the name-giving toucans. To be honest we had to swallow first when the tour started. Because the animals are in more or less big cages, we feel reminded of a zoo. And we don’t really want to support something like that. But after we learned more, the whole thing became relativized again. All animals that can be seen during the tour, except the sloths, can unfortunately not be released into the wild. Either they are already too accustomed to humans and would probably immediately run to a settlement again, or they are injured or mutilated and simply cannot take care of themselves anymore. 🙁

The brown bird with the pointed beak hates people. He was kept as a pet. They have tried to release him but he does not want to. He knows that he gets water and food. The otter was separated from his mother because children threw stones at them. She had to be raised with the bottle and has unfortunately become too used to humans. Some monkeys have had their fingers or tail cut off for no reason at all. Large birds of prey that were shot, because poachers can apparently get high sums for that. The big owls are often hit by cars, or get caught in barbed wire, as they only concentrate on their prey when hunting. Because most of them can no longer fly, or are not used to flying, the size of the enclosures is put into perspective.

There is a small wrapped bear, who had to live in a rusty old washing machine with a chain around his neck since his birth. Another sad story is that of a Tayra (a kind of weasel), which was kept in a hotel. Until neighbours called the police and it was rescued. Unfortunately, however, also here the accustoming to people is already too big. The Grison (also a kind of weasel) also had to be raised by hand because her mum was killed when she was hunting in a chicken coop.

But the success rate there is really good. About 80 % of the animals can return to the wild, for the sloths even almost 100 %. So far, only one hasn’t succeeded because he’s afraid of the rain. And did not want to go back outside. When it rains, he hides in his hammock hanging behind a tarp. 😀

There are other animals, for example an ocelot, but that would go beyond the scope here.

The animals that are eligible for release cannot be seen during the tour. So that they do not get used to people and do not get into stress. Very good, even if we unfortunately couldn’t see a red macaw for example!


Despite the many sad stories it is nice to see that the animals here have a good life and most of them make it back to the wild.

The people sacrifice a lot of time and take very good care of the animals. Many of them are volunteers. They supply them with toys to create variety and provide a species-appropriate diet. A lot of male chicks are fed, which come from neighbouring families and farmers.

Even if we were irritated at the beginning, the work here is important and appropriate. Since the project is privately financed, the facility lives from the entrance fee, donations and income from merchandise sales.

Click here for the Instagram profile of the Toucan Rescue Ranch.

Finally a video of the sloth babies. There are two in the bowl, but one has decided to lie down on top of the other. 😀

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Here you see two baby sloths, unfortunately they are orphans. But as soon as they are big enough, they will be released into the wild anyway. Sloths don’t have close ties to humans, almost 100% of the sloth have been released into the wild. Even those that had to have an arm or leg amputated.