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Iconic April The Tapir Passes #476289
11/02/13 05:25 AM
11/02/13 05:25 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 79,816
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Tonight we note the passing of Belize's most beloved public animal; that's April the Tapir. The media - along with about two generations of school children - celebrated her birthday every year in April, and tonight, her passing is also news.

The zoo reports that she died peacefully in her sleep this morning at the age of 30. She was in the company of keepers that had cared for her for many years.

April's birthday parties were an annual tradition for 30 years straight - and was an unusual and singular opportunity to have an up-close encounter with the docile and oddly charming animal. Because of this April became a genuine cultural icon and certainly, on the news calendar she was a staple and will be missed.

Channel 7

April the Tapir dead

For many years, News Five has been covering the birthday celebrations held for April the Tapir.  But after thirty years of being in existence and a main attraction at the Belize Zoo, April passed away on Thursday night.


Duane Moody, Reporting

World and national tapir day is celebrated every year in late April and it is done in honor of Belize’s national animal. One of the main attractions of the Belize Zoo is the eldest female tapir, coincidentally named April.  But over the course of Thursday night, April passed away at the Belize Zoo. According to Founding Director of the Belize Zoo, Sharon Matola, April’s health deteriorated over some weeks and they made sure that she was comfortable.

Sharon Matola, Founding Director, Belize Zoo

Sharon Matola

“We are all, not feeling too good about today and basically, April the Tapir peacefully died in her sleep on Halloween night. Her health was failing. She is basically the oldest female tapir in captivity. We are lucky we had her for thirty years, but the significance of what April meant not just to us, but to Belize is really kind of. We are focusing on that right now. She is gone, but her spirit is definitely gonna live on here at the zoo. We did a great job keeping her comfortable during her last few weeks, but you get to a point where it is just time to go. At least it wasn’t a dreadful awful disease that took her in a snap. We saw what was happening; we were committed to keeping her comfortable. And if I could say the good news is that she died peacefully in her sleep.”

To many, April is an iconic figure that played a huge role as the queen of the zoo; the tapir is the national animal of the country. Matola gave a short retrospective of April’s life from an early age.

Sharon Matola

“She couldn’t stand up; she had a huge screw-worm infection on her side. It was so big, you could stick your fist through it…she couldn’t stand up. And the few people that came to see her—at that time there was no zoo really—she is not going to live. And I said [huh] oh yeah. She was the first animal that I saved, we rehabilitated and brought into an environmental awareness limelight and she changed the way people thought about mountain cows in Belize. I’ve been here since 1983 doing this and I can assure you that that animal had a tremendous and profound impact on a nation.”

But what will happen of April’s body?

Sharon Matola

“The next step is very meaningful. April will be the first member of a museum we are going to build. It is going to be a museum of the famous animals of the Belize zoo and she is the first member. Their skeleton along with a picture board which shows them when they were young as well as the significant role they played in Belize. So people will still be able to connect.”

April the Tapir, dead at age thirty. Duane Moody for News Five.

Channel 5

Re: Iconic April The Tapir Passes [Re: Marty] #476632
11/06/13 03:49 AM
11/06/13 03:49 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 79,816
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

April Forever

Last week, we told you about April the Tapir, the iconic animal who became the standard bearer for the Zoo. Indeed, she was a big girl, but also a gentle giant, who only wanted good company and good food.

And it seems she left a big impression. In the 4 days since she passed the Belize Zoo has been and continues to be flooded with notes of condolenc and well-wishing.

Today, we spoke with the Zoo's founding director, Sharon Matola, and she told us about finally realizing just how many people April influenced in her lifetime. We set her interview to shots of the ageless April through the years:..

Sharon Matola, Founding Director - Belize Zoo
"It took me by surprise. We had over 45,000 people follow what happen with April on Facebook. We had over 1,000 response on Facebook and I had to actually turn my phone off because I just getting calls and texts."

"All of them reflected - people reminiscing about April and how they grew up with her and how they brought their children to meet her. I had no idea the size of the response, how far reaching it would be. She touched a lot of people and I understand why because we have to remember that was back in the early 80s when there were no zoo, no wildlife center, there was no place people could get in touch with the wonderful animals of this country."

"April was the first animal ambassador in Belize and she turned heard around about the magic of her species and I will always love her for that."

April was 30 years-old when she passed away; she managed to exceed her life expectancy by 5 years.

Channel 7

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