Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Surprise photos of Stanley K. Tapir

It was a very special treat today when I opened my e-mail and found four photos of Stanley K. Tapir that I hadn't known existed. They were taken approximately March or April 1969. Barry wrote: "We used to have Sunday morning pancakes at IHOP and bring the left-overs up to your place for Stanley." Well, this is an episode I had completely forgotten. Here is Candace in four photos with Stanley. They brought back memories, for sure. Stanley was about four or five months old here. I'd forgotten that he had such a nice cushy bed inside the house at that age. It wasn't long before the big, strong tapir was completely relegated to a pen outdoors at the back of the house, and I know he didn't like that! In the picture above, the ever-curious tapir was checking out Candy's hair.

Here's Candy enticing Stanley to come outside using the leftover pancakes as bait. Of course, we gave the tapir regular feedings of a diet suggested by San Diego Zoo including alfalfa hay, horse meal (Trophy brand), fresh fruit and vegetables, but he would eat almost anything and had a particular fondness for most things that people eat. It's almost impossible to push a tapir anywhere (see the end of the post), but he could be led with bananas, pancakes, or anything that smelled really good.

Happy tapir. I'd forgotten that he had this much white under this throat. It seems to have faded with age, because I don't see it in his later photos - this one, for instance.

He's looking for the crumbs :) Big, big thanks to Barry and Candace! These pictures really made my day!

In the first paragraph, I mentioned that you can't push a tapir. You can try, but every time I've done it, even when the tapir was half the size that Stanley is here, he would lean back into me. I thought he was just being stubborn, but years later I heard something on a video shown on PBS by "the real horse whisperer," Monty Roberts. (This guy was amazing, by the way, find the video if you can.) He understood horse behavior so well that it was as if the horse heard his thoughts and did what he wanted. He simply knew how the horse would respond to a certain stimulus and behaved in such a way that would most times give him the reaction he wanted. Tapirs are related to horses, and I expect they behave the same way to the stimulus of being pushed or poked. They lean into it. Monty explained that when a horse is attacked by a large cat such as a mountain lion, it pushes toward the attacking claws. If it pulled away, the skin and muscle would rip and damage the horse terribly. By leaning back into the pressure, the horse may have a chance to disengage the claws before it runs or frightens away the cat. I've never seen this, I'm only remembering what I heard in the video. It would be interesting if anyone had further information.


TheFrogBag said...

This made my day! What great pictures and a great read! :)

tapirgal said...

Thanks, Corinna! It's so much fun for me to see these!

hyrax said...

When I worked with Difficult Children, we were trained to push INTO a bite, that it causes much less damage that way and that you may even be able to push the biter off center enough that they stop. I imagine this is the same kind of behavior.

tapirgal said...

Hyrax, that sounds like what I was describing. Interesting, I hadn't heard that about working with biters, but it makes good sense. So, we're almost as smart as tapirs, but we have to learn how to do it and they do it naturally!

Elisabeth said...

i'm wearing the stanley k- tapir shirt right now.. the shipment of tapir merchandise arrived yesterday :)

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