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Apr 15, 2005

April the tapir turns 22

Story PictureShe may be the only Belizean ambassador who never gets to travel abroad, and she certainly has the most humble home of the whole diplomatic corps. But this young gal, who turned a tender twenty-two today, never complains. Why should she? She has been visited by thousands of people from Belize and abroad, featured on C.N.N. and B.B.C., has her own postcards, and probably even gets fan mail. And best of all, every year this gentle mountain cow gets a sweet deal on her birthday. News Five was at April the Tapir’s annual bashment at the Belize Zoo this morning.

Celso Poot, Education Director, Belize Zoo
?She gets a birthday treat every year. She gets a cake, made of horse chow, grated carrots, cabbage, honey, hibiscus flowers, that?s a treat once a year.?

?This is a very important year for tapirs, not only April. Later this year in August The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Centre will be hosting a symposium for the conservation of tapirs, Baird?s Tapir, the Central American tapir. They range all the way down from Mexico to Colombia. We will be having about seventy biologists from all over the world, including those from Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia. We will be looking at conservation strategies on how to conserve tapirs. The major threat to tapirs in Belize is forest destruction, which is loss of habitat and poaching, because people do hunt and eat tapirs.?

?So basically we are using April as an ambassador for wildlife conservation. When we protect the tapir, we protect all the other animals in the forest, from the tiny ants to the jaguar which feeds on tapir also.?

April was among the very first animals brought to the original Belize Zoo back in 1983. She was badly infected with screwworm and not expected to live, but as you can see, with some tender nursing from Zoo Director Sharon Matola, April not only survived, she looks very likely to live on to a ripe old age. April was recently joined by a young male tapir, Ceibo, who was found wondering around near Jaguar Paw, apparently orphaned. You can visit them both at the Belize Zoo on the Western Highway.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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