Monday, December 23, 2013

Help Save TPF - Only 5 Days Left!

Save TPF Update

In order to fit our new budget of $4,000 to $5,000, we have abandoned plans for having our old web site re-designed by a professional. 

However, by adapting a Big Commerce shopping cart we can accomplish the following. I have provided links so you can see the work in progress. PLEASE NOTE! I have only been messing with the existing template. The site has not been designed yet. The whole "face" will have a new look. Yes, that brandy bottle and the funky type have to be changed.

On the new site, we will be able to connect the store and the tapir information more intimately, allowing donors to buy items, and shoppers to donate to tapir conservation.

The store supports our overhead costs and, in better economic times also contributes to tapir conservation in the field. Our new store will generate more revenue than the old one, and we believe that once again sales will help raise money for field donations.

As you can see, we will still need a paid professional to adapt the store template to fit our needs. We estimate the cost at about $2,000-$4,000 for the adaptation. There is still a lot of work to do, although I have already spent many hours on the transition.

We will be able to showcase multiple tapir projects for funding using the same menu system the shopping cart uses. Each project will have plenty of space for description, photos, videos, updates, and interactivity with donors via reviews. 

We can promote greater education through easier-to-produce, more easily-readable content (including images) and organization of animals by classification, geologic time period, etc. This goes not only for tapirs, but for every animal in the store. 

A free downloadable tapir library is one of my goals. It may or may not work the way I've shown it here. The cart provides an incredibly good search and organizing feature, although the database will have to be separated from the store one way or another (template design or a separate-but-attached site).

We can create galleries of tapir images using the webpage feature of Big Commerce. Here are two examples of tapir photos and tapir art.

We will be able to showcase the artists who make some of our unique products. This link will tell you about Corinna Bechko. I would like to pursue my dream of selling more hand-made products in general, and more from tapir countries made by local people. This showcase feature will become very important in supporting the work of artists as well as conservationists.

We will have better connectivity through newsletter sign-up. 

Some of the standard templates give a better look with bigger images than the one I am showing you, but worse functionality. Part of the job of a designer will be to give us the best of both worlds.

There are many more features and ways this new site can help us reach our goals.

Our campaign is nearly over. Any amount will help! And thank you so much to those of you who have already made generous donations.

Thanks for your support, thoughts and suggestions.

All the best,


Our Indiegogo donation page:

Please help if you can. There are only 5 days left!

This blog is sponsored by Tapir and Friends Animal Store
and The Tapir Preservation Fund

Sunday, November 03, 2013

The Tapir Preservation Fund Needs Your Help

Please visit our Indiegogo fundraising campaign at

The Tapir Preservation Fund has been helping tapir projects for 17 years. This time we need your help to upgrde our web site so we can continue our important work of helping those tapir projects that are historically underfunded.

Even if you can't help with funding, please enjoy our entertaining and informative video.

Sheryl Todd
Tapir Preservation Fund


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Beautiful Mom and Baby Plastic Tapir Replicas

Mom and baby Baird's tapir figurines now available online at

Come visit our store to learn more about these beautiful, lifelike replicas and about Baird's tapirs!

This blog is sponsored by Tapir and Friends Animal Store.
Join WORLD TAPIR DAY on Facebook.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wood Carving of a Lowland Tapir

Corpus Christi, Texas ~ December 22, 2012
From Erika

This collection of beautifully carved animals was relegated to the end of a hallway, as if its placement had been an afterthought. Imagine Erika's surprise when she found this elegant tapir. (Photo taken by cell phone and sent in a text message.)

Please e-mail your photos and text if you would like to see them on this blog.
This blog is sponsored by Tapir and Friends Animal Store.
Join WORLD TAPIR DAY on Facebook.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Portrait of a Tapir at the Point Defiance Zoo

Tacoma, Washington ~ August 27, 2006
Point Defiance Zoo

This Asian or Malayan tapir appears on a mural at the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington.

Here's the tapir again with a few friends. I enjoyed the surprise of finding a tapir among the other animals in this outdoor painting. The zoo does much to educate their visitors about tapirs.

Please e-mail your photos and text if you would like to see them on this blog.
This blog is sponsored by Tapir and Friends Animal Store.
Join WORLD TAPIR DAY on Facebook.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Metal Tapirs in the California Desert

Near Borrego Springs, California ~ January 11, 2012
Photos by Patrick Tillett

What else would you expect to find in the California desert? Sidewinders? Tortoises? Jackrabbits? Although they don't belong here today, tapirs did roam this speck of earth when it was a very different place.

Dennis Avery, along with artist Ricardo Breceda, decided to bring back to Galleta Meadows an extinct form called Tapirus merriami, or Merriam's tapir, an ungulate that roamed these parts about a million years ago. Take a look at the illustration showing Merriam's tapir as it might have looked on the shores of Lake Borrego so far back in time. (Click on "The Shores of Lake Borrego" on their site if the tapir doesn't come up automatically.)

 In poking about, I found a comment by Eric Scott after visiting the massive art installation in 2009. He liked it, but he thought it needed a few tapirs. Maybe someone listened, or maybe Eric missed the "noses." Apparently the massive display of animals is spread out so you come upon them in unexpected places.

Blogger friend Pat Tillet was surprised, and thanks to his penchant for finding weird stuff, we can all enjoy them. If you like to follow interesting daily adventures, you might want to take a look at his blog. It's a bit of travel, a bit of photography, bit of poetry, and some of the strangest personal stories I know. It's nicely written, and comments always acknowledged. It's one my favorite blogs. And you never know when the odd tapir will turn up.

Please e-mail your photos and text if you would like to see them on this blog.
This blog is sponsored by Tapir and Friends Animal Store.
Join WORLD TAPIR DAY on Facebook.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Harvard Tapirs: Of Toes and Ancient Taxidermy

Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts ~
May 5, 2006

In May 2006 Lee and I visited Cambridge, and of course stopped to see the Museum of Natural History on the Harvard campus.

Harvard Museum of Natural History

That's Lee on the left wearing, appropriately, his howler monkey T-shirt from the Belize Zoo. As you can see by the sign on the door, it's just called the Museum of Natural History, but the building houses the prestigious Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology as well. The animal displays in this building are the "public face" of the Museum of Comparative Zoology. I didn't realize that the bulk of the MCZ collection was in another building (Agassiz Hall) or I would have tried to find it. How many times have I seen the time-honored initials MCZ in some interesting publication? As it was, we did find a few tapirs and their kin.

Amazingly, one of the first signs we saw had the word "tapir" on it. (Click on the image to enlarge the sign.)

Fossil Heptodon

Say "Hello" to Heptodon. If you'd like to compare skeletons with a modern tapir, see the re-posted photo of a Bairds tapir skeleton below. Remember, Heptodon is a 50-MILLION-year-old relative.

Baird's tapir skeleton in the Smithsonian,
photo by Carol Schaffer

Fossil skull of Heptodon

Sorry about the poor quality of the photo. It was pretty dark inside and I was using my 2006 camera. For comparison see a modern Baird's tapir skull re-posted below.

Here's Heptodon's front foot. It has five toes instead of the four toes you'll find on a tapir's front foot.

And here are Heptodon's rear feet with the three-toed structure similar to those of a modern tapir. Check out what the real tapir's skeletal foot looks like below.

As we entered another room, a hall of mammals, the real prize awaited. Who would have imagined that tapirs would occupy such a prominent place?

You could tell the tapir had been here a long time, but it didn't look too bad. Here you can see the tapir's back feet along with the back feet of the photographer.

The front end of the tapir . . . I was just trying to be complete. Also trying to avoid reflections, although they are intriguing.

Front foot of the Asian or Malayan tapir seen above

Here is the tapir's sign. It has the same common and scientific names we use today, although one of the countries has changed. Burma is now Myanmar.

Here's another surreal pic of the tapir with the museum background and the reflections suggesting random and creatively-juxtaposed thoughts. You can also see the photographer in the lower left.

Now here's where things begin to get weird. This is a mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque). Can you tell? Really? I love museums. I even love falling-apart old museums. Maybe especially those. And I even enjoy falling-apart museum exhibits, but this poor scraggly tapir took me aback and made me question the entire concept of putting him on display. In fact, it was mostly because I couldn't find the right context for this tapir that I hadn't posted the photos soon after our trip. I could have understood it as a display or commentary on the history of taxidermy or the history of animal collections in museums, or the history of museum collections in general, but I could not understand how this distorted creature had become a prominent feature on the "public face" of the Natural History Museum at a prestigious scientific institution. Granted, as I was collecting links for this post I discovered that the Museum of Comparative Zoology is upgrading. Until now I had no idea. In fact, I'm still not sure which part of the museum is upgrading, this building or only Agassiz Hall, nor do I know what the disposition will be of the mammals I saw on this day in 2006. But what immediately came to mind was an issue that has been troublesome to me for most of the past decade.

When the Museum of Natural History in London (not pictured here) was revamping its gorgeous halls sometime during the last ten years, they had to make decisions about whether to display their old (and I mean very old) taxidermied animals in the upgraded setting; and I learned that they were not planning to replace the faded and bedraggled animals. Some of them, including a baby lowland tapir, looked to be approximate contemporaries of the mountain tapir above. Are you kidding? I found this news puzzling and I wondered why they wouldn't consider displaying one that would give the public a better understanding of the living animal.

The curator replied - and I cannot understand it even today enough to put it into the proper words - they preferred a policy of using the old taxidermied animals rather than - how would you say it? - damaging? using up? compromising? another animal. What? I would certainly not condone taking an animal out of the wild or killing a living one for a museum exhibit, but how many tapirs have died in captivity since these ratty specimens became ready for the dustbin? Couldn't newer bodies undergo improved taxidermy without doing any harm?

Mountain tapir at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, 
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Photo by Sheryl Todd

Unless a person already knows tapirs, who is going to guess that the tapirs in the two photos above are of the same species? How could anyone possibly use the first tapir to any degree as a reference? You would never know that the mountain tapir has very prominent white fur around its mouth or that its coloring is reddish brown to black. How many thousands of people will visit this museum who will never get a chance to see living mountain tapirs in Los Angeles, Colorado Springs, San Francisco, Langley, B.C., Canada, or Cali, Colombia?

Continuing the tour, let's have a look at the feet of our mountain tapir.

I always wondered how women (or anyone) with two-inch nails could type. This poor tapir looks like it could have had an analogous problem just trying to walk. The foot of the Asian tapir (nine photos back) gives a better idea of the way a tapir's hooves should look.

The sign is quaint with its ancient information, which would be fine if this were a history of exhibits as mentioned above. Not so fine if you're trying to teach something in 2006 or 2012.

OK, here is the icing on the crumbling cake. Click on the sign and read the part about the toes. Reality disconnect. Count. The. Toes. The number of toes on a tapir is one of the most salient facts concerning what makes a tapir a tapir. The number of toes gives it its unusual classification as a perissodactyl. I wonder how many students over the decades have wondered if that fifth toe is vestigial, buried under the skin among the other bones of the foot? It is not. Had the sign given the correct number of toes, this tapir would have made a more confident comparison with its early relative, Heptodon, a scant few yards away in the other room. 

Poor tapir. Poor students. Doesn't a display like this defeat the purpose of the time and money put into the exhibit by the museum in order to educate? I enjoyed my visit to this historic place. And I certainly hope the new museum does not decide to go the way of London, photos from which I will highlight another day.

Please e-mail your photos and text if you would like to see them on this blog.
This blog is sponsored by Tapir and Friends Animal Store.
Join WORLD TAPIR DAY on Facebook.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Tapir/Taper Story

In 2012 I will continue to do massive scanning of my 40+ years worth of tapir files and attempt to put more of the results online than I did in 2011. There are all kinds of things in the file from articles to photos to who-knows-what. Yesterday I came upon this story sent to me in 2000. The person who sent it is all grown up now, but the story is still fun:

Date: Sun, 7 May 2000 18:20:17 EDT

I have a tapir story for you.

My family has always loved tapirs, and they are always the main reason we go to the zoo. One day, my dad came back from his run and told us a story. He had run up in the hills around our house, and had stopped to look at a house under construction. This is a very odd house, because it is a big bubble dome. He was looking, and then the owner of the house came by, and she said, "You can look around, but be careful, because there is a tapir around."

So my dad went and looked at the house, but he didn't see any tapirs. It was only then when he was telling it to us that he realized that the woman meant taper, as in one who tapes.

I'm not sure if this is the kind of story you want, because it doesn't involve real tapirs. My name is Spencer Easton, and I'm 13 (well, 14, in 6 days). I love your website, and have pictures of tapirs on my walls!

Spencer, I loved your story then and I still do. It's too bad it took me 11 years to get it online :-) Who knows what else I'll find in my files. . . .

~ Sheryl

Please e-mail your photos and text if you would like to see them on this blog.
This blog is sponsored by Tapir and Friends Animal Store.
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Monday, December 19, 2011

Carved Bloodwood Tapirs from Colombia

Support conservation efforts with this unique, hand-carved collectible!

Our Bloodwood Animals

Palo de sangre is the Spanish name for this rich, red wood which is popular for making cultural handcrafts and art in South America. The English translation is "bloodwood." It is the heartwood of the trees Brosimum paraense and Brosimum rubescens. The sapwood is yellowish-white. According to Wikipedia, "Palo de sangre has a fine texture and takes a high polish. The wood is very hard and has a tendency to blunt tools. The wood is used in decorative woodworking and woodturning. The Nature Conservancy considers this tree secure within its native range." Other sources give additional names: muirapiranga, satiné rubane, cacique, and cardinalwood (due to its red color). It keeps its color, and does not turn brown with age like some highly colored woods. See our full selection of bloodwood ("palo de sangre") hand-carved animals from Colombia.

Palo de sangre is carved into wonderfully attractive and charming animal figures in Colombia and other regions of tropical America. The bright red color is a natural property of the wood, as is the highly finished shine on the surface (evidenced by the reflected light in the photo). These animals are not varnished, stained, or painted, but come to you in their spectacular natural finish. Fortunately, the artisans who carve them are not restricted by any means or conventions to a particular template, so you get the benefit of each individual's vision and creativity. The wood also varies somewhat from one carving to the next as far as natural color, grain, and markings. Although the individual item is different from all others, the motifs are repeated. For example, crocodiles and manatees are more common; and tapirs are less common. We may be able to get several tapirs this month and none next month, for example. Or we may be able to get small otters one month and only large otters the next. We decided to show you each and every animal we have available, and you can order by the number. You will receive the exact item you see on the web site. The only order option for quantity is one per item, as no two are alike. These carved wood animals are imported to the US by the Tapir Preservation Fund. Your purchase helps support conservation of tapirs and their habitat.

Tapirs of Colombia

Colombia is the only country that is home to more than two species of tapir. Three distinct species and one subspecies inhabit the country. Mountain tapirs live in one chain of the Andes mountains, lowland tapirs live in much of the jungle (eastern) area of Colombia, and a very few Baird's tapirs live in the far north near the Isthmus of Panama. There is also a subspecies of lowland tapir called the Colombian tapir living in an isolated area called Santa Marta. Colombia is still a frontier for tapir discoveries. The Colombian tapir, a subset of the lowland tapir, was believed by some to be a distinct subspecies, but it was only clearly distinguished as such in the past few years. Some people believe that Baird's tapir, which can be found in a small pocket in the north of Colombia also ranges down the dense, barely-accessible western coast. There have been reports of sightings or tracks of Baird's tapir in the west, but no definitive evidence has been brought to light. We hope that Baird's tapir will be someday be identified for certain as living along Colombia's west coast.

This blog is sponsored by Tapir and Friends Animal Store.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tapir Skull at Point Defiance Zoo

August 27, 2006 ~ Tacoma, Washington

There was a tapir skull on display outside the Asian tapir enclosure at Point Defiance Zoo on one of my trips up there in 2006. Tapir skulls are interesting and there was a nice young woman giving info to anyone who would listen, explaining points about the skull. Notice the huge area between the top of the jaw and that small triangle of bone above it. This is the space necessary for all the passages and muscles of the tapir's nose.

Click on any photo to enlarge.

The eye socket is not enclosed, but is wide open towards the back of the head. This is a primitive form not seen in many mammals.

Check out the inside of the nasal cavity. I'm not sure what those parallel ridges are for. And check out the guy in the corner. See what I mean about the eye sockets being different?

Please e-mail your photos and text if you would like to see them on this blog.
This blog is sponsored by Tapir and Friends Animal Store.
Join WORLD TAPIR DAY on Facebook.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Beaded Baby Tapir from Guatemala

New in our online store . . .

Our Beaded Baby Tapir

It was another one of those very lucky days when Catherine Todd (same last name, no relation) contacted me about taking some of our plastic animals to Guatemala so the artisans could craft beaded animals with the plastic replicas as a realistically-shaped base. The subject at hand was camels, but we thought it would be fun to make some beaded tapirs as well. Imagine my delight when these cute animals came back in the mail, their plastic bodies covered in shiny seed beads stitched together into a brand new creation. You don't find beaded tapirs just anywhere, trust me! I've looked! When you purchase one of these unique animals from our collection, you help in a number of ways. You help save tapirs, because that's what we do. You help the local artisans in Guatemala who need an outlet for their work (yes, jobs!), and you help my new friend Catherine with her sustainable business of working with the artisans of Guatemala to maintain jobs for themselves and make beautiful art for many people around the world to enjoy. Check out our other tapir items as well as our page of beaded animal art!

About Baby Tapirs

Baby tapirs are some of the most adorable and engaging animals on Earth! There are four species of tapir, and the babies of all species are marked with their distinguishing spots and stripes. The stripes on our beaded baby tapir do not match those of any particular species, so you can imagine it's whichever species you like best. Baby tapirs are quite friendly and lovable. They can stand and walk almost immediately, and they quickly begin to explore their world with amusing curiosity. It takes a gestation period of about 13 months for a pair to produce one baby. Can you believe that? It's one of the longest gestation periods among mammals. Even horses give birth after about 11 months. Because only one baby is born per pregnancy, and because the gestation period is so long, the tapirs are said to have a long "recruitment period." This means that for every tapir that is killed in the wild (or that dies of natural causes), it takes a very long time to replace that animal. This is one reason why hunting and destruction of habitat are so devastating to the Earth's dwindling population of tapirs. You can purchase this beaded tapir, take it home, and be proud not only to have a beautiful, unique, hand-made work of art, but also to know that your purchase keeps the Tapir Preservation Fund going so we can support tapir conservation in the field.

Please e-mail your photos and text if you would like to see them on this blog.
This blog is sponsored by Tapir and Friends Animal Store.
Join WORLD TAPIR DAY on Facebook.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Emergency Room Tapir

Astoria, Oregon ~ March 3, 2011

You never know where you're going to find a tapir! Fortunately, I had my cell phone with me and it had a camera.

I had the worst flu or cold of my life - or whatever kind of bug it was - in late February and early March of this year, and on March 3rd I took myself to the Emergency Room to figure out why I felt so bad. As it turned out, I had a freaky reaction to Tylenol PM and I was having something just short of panic attacks. Since I wasn't seriously ill or damaged, it took them over three hours to get around to processing my tests. Meanwhile, look who was there to keep me company! Under the circumstances, I was especially glad to have the little tapir by my side.

I don't know who got the idea to paint a mural with a TAPIR of all things in the temperate lands of northwestern Oregon, but we are, after all, in a rainforest, albeit different from the one where this little Asian tapir lives in real life.

Please e-mail your photos and text if you would like to see them on this blog.
This blog is sponsored by Tapir and Friends Animal Store.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Mountain Tapir at Home

Check out this short video from Armando Castellanos' Mountain Tapir Project in Ecuador. 

If you ever wondered what mountain tapir country is really like . . . be amazed! Also, check out the sidebar for a video of a mountain tapir mother and baby in the wild (or see it here).

You can follow Armando and his projects on Facebook.

Please e-mail your photos and text if you would like to see them on this blog.
This blog is sponsored by Tapir and Friends Animal Store.
Join WORLD TAPIR DAY on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tapirs at Macoa

Lowland Tapirs at Macoa, Colombia
Photo copyright Lee Spangler 2011

With only a few minutes available online, Lee sent me two out of about 50 photos he took of several lowland tapirs frolicking in the waters of the reserve at Macoa, Colombia. The description he gave over Skype was almost completely unexpected! (And we thought tapirs only lounged around trying to catch some zzzzs?) I'd only noted some of the behaviors once or twice during my 40+ years of watching or reading about these animals, and I hadn't heard about other behaviors at all. It was truly fascinating to hear first-hand, and I'll get him to elaborate for us once he has more time. Meanwhile, check out Lee's post on his own blog, "Lee's Daily Adventure." You'll see a couple more shots of these guys. Click on the top photo of Lee's post and notice how hard it's raining! The tapirs loved it. I remember my own tapir, Stanley K., looking to the sky and opening his mouth wide when it would rain. Lee didn't report this behavior, but you'll enjoy hearing the story when he has more time online. Check it out.

Please e-mail your photos and text if you would like to see them on this blog.
This blog is sponsored by Tapir and Friends Animal Store.
Join WORLD TAPIR DAY on Facebook.

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