Here's Xavier meeting Carla. Continue down the blog to learn more about the friendly Carla and her relationship with the research station. Carla is about 2 years and 2 months old here, and April 7, 2009, will be the two-year anniversary of her adoption by the station. Carla is free to come and go as she pleases. She enjoys visiting, and you'll hear about that in a minute.
Xavier is just over 5' 8" tall (1.78 meters), to give some idea in relation to the tapir.
Xavier and Carla are waiting outside the dining hall of Yasuni Biological Station. Did anyone say "food"?
This photo of Carla as a baby was sent by Pablo Alvia, who currently works in the Yasuni National Park. The age estimate give is approximately four months, but I wonder because she still has so many stripes. Does anyone remember if there is a photo study of the way juvenile lowland tapirs look at various ages? Carla made her first appearance at the biological station on April 7, 2007. The photo is labelled "Dantito," a little tapir.
Xavier said that Carla (as an adult) is a very quiet and nice animal. It seems that temperament varies extremely from one tapir to the next. I raised two (one lowland male and one Baird's female). I got each one as a striped baby, and the male was a biter from the youngest age, while the female never tried to bite even up to the age of 8 months, at which time she went to live at the San Diego Zoo. I should also mention that tapirs are large animal with strong jaws, and they are also curious. Sometimes they will simply nibble on things to test them, and you don't want that thing to be your fingers! I mentioned tapir temperament to Xavier, and asked a lot of questions. He replied with the following e-mail:
"I'm a biologist specialized in botany. I know something about some wild species of animals from Ecuador, but unfortunately I know nothing about Tapirs. Somebody told me that that Tapir from Yasuni National Park (NE Ecuador, Orellana Prov.) is a female, and is fed with bananas. In one of the photos (with me) she is resting outside the restaurant of the Biological Station, looking throught the window, waiting for somebody to feed her. I was stroking her neck (she likes it), but a couple of minutes after that photo (with me sitting on the ground), she was smelling me and relatively softly bit my leg, that scared me a bit because she is a huge animal. I noticed that she didn't like when I stroked her nose and close to her eyes. That tapir is the pet of the Biological Station of Yasuni National Park, she lives there and freely walks in the night. The first meeting with her was some minutes before while I was pressing the plants I collected during the day. My plants where organized in piles, she suddenly appeared in the darkness smelling them, looking for something to eat."
Oops! In the US we have a joke when you don't do your schoolwork; you tell the teacher that that your dog ate the homework. How would you explain that a tapir ate your botany project?
In addition to the pictures of Carla, Xavier forwarded two photos taken by Pablo Alvia of a lowland tapir skull housed at the Yasuni Biological Station:Above: Top view of lowland tapir skull by Pablo Alvia, Ecuador.
The side view of the skull shows blackened molars. I'd like to ask the experts in the field to what they would attribute this condition of the teeth in the Yasuni National Park region of Ecuador.
Our thanks to Xavier and Pablo for their contributions to this blog. I have also added the photos to our lowland tapir photo album and lowland tapir album of natural history images. Copies of these photos are in the database of the Museum at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Guayaquil, Ecuador.