Sunday, April 27, 2008

It's World Tapir Day!

This is Bintang, one of the Malayan tapirs born at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle during the time Heidi Frohring was their keeper and best friend. Heidi sent me this photo in December 2000. You can just see Heidi behind the tapir and its wreath made of foliage. She found many creative ways to use plants and other tapir food to keep the animals interested and occupied. Over the years she sent wonderful photos, creative pictures with heart. Someone else must have taken this photo, since Heidi is in it. (If you took the photo, please let me know and I'll give photo credit.) It embodies the same spirit as many of Heidi's own photos. The tapirs become real to us through their expressive faces and gestures, or the photos captured them in lighting or a moment that is memorable and touches something within us. We relate and we care.


Personally, I'm celebrating World Tapir Day not so differently from other days. Making blog posts, working on the web site, sending animal toys and gifts to people who order them online, e-mailing others involved in the tapir world. Also typically, I'm wearing a tapir t-shirt and (since this is the Pacific Northwest, after all) wearing a tapir sweatshirt over that. Next week I'll be visiting Seattle to celebrate my birthday and to meet Wilson Novarino, a tapir conservationist, researcher, and educator from Sumatra, Indonesia. The Tapir Preservation Fund has helped in a small way to support his work since we met online nearly a decade ago. I'm certainly looking forward to meeting in person, and of course, to renew acquaintances with the wonderful staff and the tapirs at Woodland Park Zoo. I have a few friends in that city as well. It will be fun. I'll be sure, as always, to wear tapirs and take my camera!

Whatever you are doing today, the FIRST ANNUAL WORLD TAPIR DAY, please think of these animals and look forward to a world in which more people will know of them through your efforts and to care about their conservation. Wear a shirt from the Tapir Gift Shop or CafePress (search for the word "tapir"). Or make your own wearable tapir art. Talk to people when your shirt becomes a conversation piece! I recently bought myself a mouse pad of the mountain tapir on the tapir items page, and immediately Lee asked to have it, as he has also fallen under the spell of the tapir. Anthony Long, who came up with the original idea for World Tapir Day, has provided tapir items you can buy in his World Tapir Day Store on CafePress. Proceeds from your purchase will go to tapir conservation projects, and this year's funded project will be April and the other Baird's tapirs at the Belize Zoo. During the summer months, tourism slows down and it's always a struggle to get enough money to feed the animals. If we all pitch in, we can help ease the burden this year. Sharon (the zoo's founder and director) is an amazing person who has done so much to create a climate of conservation awareness in Belize and an awareness among locals and tourists of Belize's wild animals. She's created many conservation models in Belize that really work and have been an inspiration to others in the field. Let's help her feed the tapirs this year!

Fortunately these days when you google tapirs, you come up with a lot of material. Try it, it's fun! Meanwhile, here are just a few links relevant to this post:

The Official World Tapir Day Website
Anthony's Tapir Blog
April's recent birthday party
Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle

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