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#374975 04/29/10 08:23 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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At 27 years old April the Tapir has celebrated more birthdays than most Tapirs ever will. And right that she should, this national animal has become the flagship attraction at the Belize Zoo -and it seems that we've covered every one of her birthdays for the last 16 years. Today was no different, except that we found a new tapir on her turf. Here's that report.

Jahmal Andrewin - Environmental Educator We had the La Democracia Pre-school -- The Gibnuts -- thats their nickname, coming to sing a happy birthday song with Ms. Sharon for April, a special song they composed. And then we had April and her friend Bullet Head share a special cake to commemorate her 27th birthday.

Jules Vasquez, Reporting
This event had all the familiar trappings of a birthday party, singing form eager party-goers.

Jahmal Andrewin - Environmental Educator

"We had the La Democracia Pre-school -- The Gibnuts - that's their nickname, coming to sing a happy birthday song with Ms. Sharon for April, a special song they composed. And then we had April and her friend Bullet Head share a special cake to commemorate her 27th birthday. "

And what's a song without a cake?

Jahmal Andrewin - Environmental Educator
"April's cake is made basically of horse feed, a lot of honey, some fruits like banana, carrots, watermelon and I think some almonds were thrown in."

And of course, the main attraction, the birthday girl (8:40) April the Tapir, who indulged at will and was even willing to share with her male friend Bullet Head.

Jahmal Andrewin - Environmental Educator
"Well I think Bullet Head enjoy it more than her. April had her fill and walked off so Bullet Head stayed for the attention and the cake."

And after the meal she came looking to our camera for dessert.

Jahmal Andrewin - Environmental Educator
"For an old girl, she is still in surprisingly good health. We see her sometimes running with a young tapir next to her. Even in the mornings we do a nice jog in the morning. She has all her senses. She can still see and everything. So at 27 she is still doing well, which is old for a tapirs. Normlly animals in captivity, they tend to have a longer lifespan so she is doing quite well in the zoo. She should be here for 28 still."

And when April is ready to move over form the spotlight - there's a new up and coming Tapir, ready to step into her shoes. He's just a calf, but nobody knows the troubles he's seen:

Jahmal Andrewin - Environmental Educator
"His name is Tambo because he was found in Los Tambos, a village nearby. His mother was apparently shot and they had Tambo tied up to be sold for profit right. I believe he was just in someone's house. They had him tied up in a corner and the guy was getting ready to sell him off. We got a tip from a fellow villager that they were selling this tapir. They had shot the mother and probably used her for meat, they sold the meat as well, so it was all about profit. Tambo came in to the zoo very sick. He had lacerations all on his neck where the rope was holding him. He's still under a lot of treatment and topical and internal medicine for him to recover. I mean he is a young guy he was only a month old right. And they need a lot of nourishment at that age, which he wasn't getting."

And how things have changed - when we visited he was so full he could barely stand.

Jahmal Andrewin - Environmental Educator
"Yeah, he was digesting his food but I guess it was a big change for him to come to here he gets 5-start treatment that what he would have gotten if he had been sold."

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
OP Offline

April the tapir celebrates twenty-seven years at the Belize Zoo

april tapir 2It'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

Celso Poot

Celso Poot

"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.

april tapir[Students singing Happy Birthday�]
Celso Poot

"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.

Celso Poot

"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.

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