Rescuing and Rehabilitating Costa Rican Wildlife

Submitted by Kat Severson on the 2024 Winter SPAN program in Costa Rica…

Latte the sloth heading towards a yummy flower treat.

Starting off the month in Costa Rica, one of our first excursions was to the Toucan Rescue Ranch in Heredia. This Ranch dedicates itself to the rescuing and rehabilitating of Costa Rican wildlife, and returning those animals able enough to their natural habitat. Every one of these animals has tragic stories about why they ended up on the Ranch. Many (like the scarlet macaws) were a part of the illegal animal trades for pets, or hit by cars, or attacked by people’s pet dogs (like Hershey). Pictured are some of the Ranch’s permanent members who have been too imprinted by human intervention, or face more severe and permanent injuries that would make them unfit for a life in the wild. However, these animals are well cared for by the amazing volunteers who feed, clean, and socialize with them, as well as the vet and rehab staff.

Pictured, we see someone who is a symbol of Costa Rica, a sloth named Latte. Latte has failed her release program several times, thus showing that she is unfit for life in the wild, but there is always hope! We got to watch her enjoy a favorite treat, a full pink flower. Next, we learned about the numerous amounts of parrots that are permanent residents on the Ranch. There are several breeds, all of whom were a part of the illegal pet trade, and have been too imprinted by humans to be able to survive in the wild. Then there is Hershey, a tayra. When Hershey was very young, he was attacked by a domestic dog and badly injured. The person who saw the attack took Hershey in and nurtured him back to health, but by then Hershey was too attached and relied on his caretaker too much to be returned to the wild and was thus given to the Ranch.

This Ranch not inly helps its residents, but the entirety of Costa Rican biodiversity through its mission. Rehabilitating and returning the fit and able animals to their natural habitats helps restore the ecosystem and the balance of nature. (Submitted on January 14, 2024)

The scarlet macaws that had been rescued from the illegal animal trade.