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Apr 26, 2002

April the tapir turns 19

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It’s a story we’ve covered for more than a decade and it’s quite something to watch the transformation of an animal found on the brink of death transformed into a public attraction. That’s right, today is April’s birthday and this morning, News 5′s Jacqueline Woods showed up to help her favourite tapir celebrate in what’s become a trademark style.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

In 1983, two hunters found April the Tapir in the roaring river Area in the Cayo District. She was extremely weak, infested with screwworms and weighed only forty-five pounds. The mammal, which is the National Animal of Belize, was rushed to the Belize Zoo. Since taking up residence, April’s health has improved and she now weighs four hundred pounds. The tapir is the most popular animal at the zoo. In fact, every year hundreds of school children and members of the media make the thirty one-mile journey on the Western Highway to wish April a very happy birthday.

(Children singing happy birthday)

A total of two hundred boys and girls from primary schools across the country attended the party. Most of the children had not seen a mountain cow before and anxiously gathered outside of April’s home to get a good look. But April took her time to greet her guests and appeared unhappy at the noise coming from outside her pen. Once the children quieted, April made her way towards them to wait for her annual treat. Thirteen-year-old Antia Gray and twelve-year-old Jessica Balan who were also celebrating their birthdays today had the honour of taking the cake to the Tapir.

Celso Poot, Education Director, Belize Zoo

“April is doing health-wise. Nineteen years old, that’s a lot for a tapir. In the wild, they live anywhere between eighteen and twenty years. In captivity they go to about thirty years, so she has some more years left in her.”

According to the Education Director of the Belize Zoo, Celso Poot, April’s party is not just for the tapir, but for all other animals in Belize to be respected as much as she is. Jacqueline Woods reporting for News 5.

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