April the tapir celebrates twenty-seven years at the Belize Zoo
It’s another milestone for the tapir we have come to know and care for over the years. And what’s a birthday without a party? April, is among the first animals at the Belize zoo, so the occasion was marked with a birthday bash. As we have over the years, News Five’s Delahnie Bain headed to the zoo to capture the moments.
Delahnie Bain, Reporting
She’s commonly known as a mountain cow, the country’s national animal and of course, as April… but today this tapir is the birthday girl. April, the star at the Belize Zoo, turned twenty-seven and education director, Celso Poot tells us the secret to her long life.
Celso Poot, Education Director/Manager, Belize Zoo
“The care that’s been given to April over the year and also the attention she’s been given over the years. April is a special animal for us. She’s actually one of the few original animals that is here with us when the zoo started so the zoo is actually as old as April. All the animals in the zoo get a lot of care and attention, but somehow because of the message April has been bringing across to the people of Belize and those from abroad that visit the zoo, she somehow gets special attention. She’s doing pretty good health wise. We have no concern for her health at this time; she’s doing good. In the wild, she would have probably already succumbed to injuries or to the natural elements. In captivity there are records of tapirs living more than thirty years so she has quite some more years to go.”
Kids from three schools in the west attended April’s party and sang happy birthday while she and her buddy Bullethead chowed down on the cake which was specially made for their vegetarian taste.
[Students singing Happy Birthday…]
“The cake is made from horse chow, tapirs are distant relative of horses and rhinoceros—so it’s made with horse chow, it’s garnished with watermelon, carrots, cucumber and flowers from the bougainvillea.”
But the celebration is not just about April marking milestones, it is also to spread the message of conservation because the animals are endangered.
“In Belize we have a very high incidence of tapir being killed. Actually just since January of this year we’ve had to go out to rescue two tapirs that have been knocked down by vehicular traffic. We’ve also had two orphan tapirs that have been confiscated from people keeping them as pets. Over the years I’ve had adults who were kids visiting April’s birthday, bringing their kids to see April the tapir that they’ve grown up to love, April the tapir that has brought awareness about the plight that animals in Belize and across the world face. So it is very important that we try and instill some sense of awareness but also appreciation for the animals among the students.”
A long time supporter of the Belize Zoo, who wished to remain anonymous, donated goody bags for the children in attendance. Delahnie Bain for News Five.