On the 14th May, we celebrate the wonderful Tamara, the Brazilian Tapir’s 9th birthday! Tamara steals the hearts of the public and our Paradise team on a daily with her adorable Tapir zoomies and playful nature. Join us at Paradise to celebrate her birthday and even give her some good girl head scratches in our unique Tickle a Tapir experience!
Tamara is a cheerful Tapir and is much loved on the park. She was born in 2012 and was the cutest Tapir you’d ever see. Tapir calves exhibit striking colouration of brown and white spots and stripes. They are truly one of the most unique animal babies on our planet. Scientists believe that this unusual colouration you see with Tapir calves is to help keep them camouflaged while they are still young and vulnerable. After a few months, the Tapir begins to grow, and they lose their patterns.
However, she is now not the smallest in the paddocks. Tamara has grown into a happy and healthy Tapir, even out massing her father Temuko. Temuko and Tamara have been cohabitating now for nine years and have been in perfect harmony. They are often spotted cuddling up together in their hay beds or sharing a nutritious trough of their favourite vegetables. Both Tapirs also love a good scratch under their chin or on their bellies. You can tickle a Tapir yourself through our fantastic experience! Moreover, their father-daughter relationship is significant to the International Breeding Programme. Tamara is one of the four successful offspring from Temuko, which is fantastic for the conservation of the Brazilian Tapir species.
The international breeding programme is the governing body that ensures the healthy, diverse and sustainable breeding of species within captivity. Once Tamara is coupled with a male, she will also play her part in the Programme. Healthy and sustainable breeding between different gene pools is so important for the future of wildlife species. If the worse care scenario occurs where wild Brazilian Tapir is lost, zoos will have a healthy and diverse captive population that can be reintroduced to the wild. From this, we would not totally lose such a magnificent wildlife species to extinction.
Sadly, Brazilian Tapirs are categorised as ‘vulnerable’ on the Red List by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Or, in other words, they are ‘vulnerable’ to extinction. Unfortunately, this is due to adverse human impacts. Mass deforestation and poaching have caused wild Brazilian Tapir populations to decline. Our charity, the Zoological Society of Hertfordshire partners with Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative, which have experts in the field working to support Tapir species.
Over the last 10 years, the Lowland Tapir Conservation initiative and the teams have focused their research more on Tapir health and genetics, which was mainly conducted through genetic profiling and camera/box trap findings. However, this past year, research focus has been slightly shifted to how Tapirs disperse once they become of age to travel solo in the wild. How Tapirs disperse is mainly investigated through GPS collars. These collars are fitted onto the Tapirs when captured in the box trap and are programmed to fall off the Tapir after a year. From the GPS tracking findings, the team can monitor how individual Tapirs travel across the wild and their patterns of dispersion. In 2019 we even sent out our head Keeper to work with the team and assist in their important conservation work.
Join us in celebrating not only Tamara’s birthday but also the amazing Brazilian Tapir species!