Monday, September 29, 2008

Tapirs at the Georgetown Zoo, Guyana

The photos in this blog post are old ones. We're expecting updates soon. Keep on reading. . . .

On Sunday, September 21, 2008, I received e-mail wth the subject line: "Tapirs at Georgetown Zoo." Wow, did THAT bring back memories! Here is the reaffirming letter from Julia and Patrick Petipas that accompanied the subject:


We used to be members of the original tapir club years ago, and have retained our interest in tapirs. Last week we unexpectedly saw the fruits of a Tapir Preservation Fund project.

Patrick's a pilot and now works a Georgetown, Guyana route pretty regularly. I went along with him last time. Late one afternoon we ourselves with some free time and all the tourist attractions we knew of closed for the day; a taxi driver suggested we visit the zoo. We were hesitant, since too many zoos, especially in poorer countries, are sad and depressing. But he insisted it was nice, and that the park where it was located was worth a look even if we didn't like the zoo.

It was a little depressing, but it seemed evident that zookeepers cared and were trying to do right with what they had. We also saw a tapir area, but no tapirs.

As we were heading for the exit, close to the sunset closing time, we saw that the tapirs had emerged so we went to see them. And to our surprise, they approached, snouts sniffing at us curiously. The female seemed to be particularly interested in me, and especially friendly staying near us for as long as we stood there and following to the edge of their enclosed area when we had to leave. They both seemed to be healthy and well cared-for. As we were leaving, we noticed a sign on the roof over their pool that said funding had been provided by the Tapir Preservation Fund and asked ourselves if this was the same organization, and if it was still in existence.

I'm very glad to see that it is, and that the Georgetown Zoo project, apparently one of the first projects funded ten years ago, is still helping out tapirs! I think we'll be rejoining Club Tapir.

Julia & Patrick

The Georgetown tapirs were, indeed, one of Club Tapir's first projects. My initial thought had been to help provide funding for projects working with wild tapir conservation, when I was contacted by Karl Kranz, then Senior Vice-President of Animal Affairs for the Philadelphia Zoo, asking if we'd take on a special-needs zoo project. It was gratifying to be able to help, and the voters liked being able to see the tapirs that would benefit from their donations. In October 1998, the Georgetown Zoo tapirs won their first vote (and dollar award) on Club Tapir as a project in need of funding. The zoo staff was caring, but there was no money for badly-needed improvements. I'd been contacted by Karl Kranz about helping via Club Tapir, and the Club Tapir voters were enthusiastic. By July 1999, we had pitched in to raise $1,465.00 for the project. ZCOG nearly matched the sum under the directorship of Dan Hilliard, and Donna Shepherd supplied us with photos, some of which are below. You can read more about it in this issue of TPF News, SEE PHOTOS OF SOME OF THE IMPROVEMENTS, and get a glimpse of what it's like to move 400-pound tapirs without a crane!

During their visit in 2008, Julia and Patrick were so enamored of the tapirs' friendliness and interest in humans, they simply related to them and didn't think of taking photos. Julia says Patrick is going back soon and will be sure to bring the camera. As a comparison, I'm posting a few photos below of the old zoo in the late 1990s. You can see that the area is lush and green the way tapirs like it. The staff is caring and affectionate towards the tapirs, but the structures are old and in need of repair. These pictures were taken in 1999. Julia and Patrick will be sending updated ones very soon and I'll post them for you.

Georgetown Zoo, Guyana, 1999

Georgetown Zoo, Guyana, 1999. Outdoors, the tapirs had no shade during the middle of the day.

Georgetown Zoo, Guyana, 1999

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Polishing a palo de sangre wood tapir

What a nice tapir, too! I found this photo online. It shows how the artisans make the wood so shiny.'

We're looking forward to a new shipment of our own soon. You never know what will turn up. It would be something to find a tapir as realistic as this one!

~ Sheryl

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tapirs and Florida's vanishing wildlife

What's the connection between tapirs and Florida's vanishing wildlife? Check out this page on the "Endangered Wildlife" web site, then venture further into the site. It's nicely designed and has good info for all of us!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Club Tapir page ready for September's donations

Hi All,

The new page is up. A few changes have been made, and you can see and vote for the current projects via this link. The tapir projects represent long hours of ongoing work - every day, every week, every year. It's so gratifying to see that, whereas a number of years ago tapir work was sporadic and the projects were short, the tapir world now has a number of quality projects that have a longevity of production stretching for years, not months. These projects, like the new ones, need ongoing support. You can read about and help to support one of four tapir conservation and research projects here:

I wish I could show you more of the actual work that's being done in the field. It's been a goal of the Tapir Preservation Fund to make more of the material available. It is labor-intensive to get the work from the field onto a web site, and I simply haven't had as much time as I'd like to devote to this area. (Volunteers are welcome!) More and more projects are developing their own sites, and we've linked to the ones we know about. It's a lot of work for anyone involved - the research and conservation aspect, and then the proposals and marketing on top of that. There is always so much more going on behind the scenes than can be presented. If you're interested in a particular project, the Principal Investigator (PI) will probably have proposals or material you can read. Just ask and we'll help you contact them. You can also read about ongoing tapir projects on the IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group web site. Thanks so much for your support and interest!

Carved wood baby tapir available!

Dear Tapir Fans and Friends,

One more carved wood baby tapir is available in our gift shop. The tapir was carved by tapir scientist and artist Sergio Sandoval of Colombia. You can check out the details while the tapir is still available on our new gift shop web site. The carved tapir will someday have a new home, but we'll leave his or her picture on the blog "forever"!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

One of my all-time favorite pieces of tapir art

I was cleaning up the hard drive and looking for mis-filed things (most likely not mis-filed, but filed with a logic that made sense at one time). Anyway, I came across these photos again and will re-file them with a logic that hopefully will prove longer-lasting! This ceramic lowland tapir, about 9 1/2 inches long and 4 3/4 inches tall, was made by Sergio Sandoval of Colombia. We got about seven of them from him one year and promptly sold them on eBay and our online tapir store. (I saved one for myself.) The detail and charming appearance of this piece makes it extra special to me. The eye is finished in a high gloss, while the rest of the body is matte. I wanted to put these photos online for all to enjoy. I'm still working with Sergio to import more of the items he either makes or purchases from indigenous people in Colombia. It's a fun project for me and brings interesting things into our two stores - the original Tapir and Friends, and the new one.

I had planned to put discontinued tapir items online in a special gallery, but that's been slow going, as other projects take precedence. However, I'll make an effort to get more of them on the blog. We actually do have a tapir Art and Craft Museum in five parts, one for each species and one "generic and unknown." Possibly they should all be linked from one page, but you can get to them all from here.

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