Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chiloquin, Oregon's, Hub City Chrome Mystery Tapir

NOTE: I now believe this animal to be Indricotherium, although with a shorter neck. We've had fun with it. Read on. . . .

A number of years ago, a tapir fan (I think it was hyrax; if it was someone else, please remind me!) told me about this phenomenon - a huge tapir sculpture along a highway in "nowhere" Oregon that didn't quite look like a tapir. After I moved to Oregon, I thought I'd be on the lookout for it, and guess what? We drove past it purely by accident on May 6, 2005, on the way to Crater Lake. I just re-found the photos. It has some tapir characteristics, and some clearly not. But I can't think what else it was intended to be. Certainly they'd know what a cow looked like, or a horse, and this is no rhino.

I can't imagine anyone making a tapir without a long snout, and there was no broken snout, because the nostrils are placed high on the muzzle.

Hub City Chrome is located in Chiloquin, Oregon. Check out the Google map to see one of the strangest locations for a tapir-anything. Of course, we stopped and went inside to find out what they could tell us. They were not pleased to see us. "We think it was made in the '60s," they said, "but we'll probably tear it down. All it gets us is people askin' questions and blockin' up our drive-through, 'specially in summer. They don't buy anything, they just wanna talk." Well, fair enough, I guess, I know what it's like to try to run a small business when people take up your time and don't buy, but maybe they should leave the "thing" intact and put up a sign. It's an oddball attraction, for sure. Maybe they should start selling replicas. I hate to think that it could be gone by now, but the weather and time were not doing it any favors.

If it's an Asian tapir, it would have the white on the top, not on the belly.

And it has a cow's tail, but it's definitely not a cow.

The feet look more like they belong to a rhinoceros, but the legs are clearly tapir. This is all I know. The Hub City tapir remains a mystery. But if you're driving south from Bend to Klamath Falls, or north from Klamath, do check it out and let me know if it still exists, OK?

Tapir birthday cake in Australia

Sent: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 10:09 PM

Subject: My tapir cake

Well there weren't many tapir cakes on the web for inspiration but I found yours. Here's what I came up with for a recent combined 4th & 66th Birthday occasion. The tapir is my Dad's favourite animal. He's the 'Grandpa' featured here, and the other birthday boy is on the right. Wanted to share this with some other tapir appreciators!




I love the photo of your family. I'm sure that many tapir fans will enjoy this! Thanks so much for sending them. Happy birthday to both of the "birday boys," and I have to say, your dad has a truly refined sense of what makes the best "favorite animal"! (Oh, look. The cutting board that the cake is on has stripes! Cool :) ~ Sheryl)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tapirs at Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Thailand

These three photos have just arrived from Valeri Volodin of Russia. If you think you're looking at real tapirs in the top photo, you may be surprised. These tapirs are sculptures! Aren't they delightful? Click on the photo to get a closer view! The pictures were taken by Valeri at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo, about 60 miles south of Bangkok.

The photos above and below are of real tapirs at Khao Kheow. Valeri says, "It was very hot, so the tapir was not very active. By the way, they have a baby tapir there, but I didn't see him."

Valeri submitted the name for our popular stuffed tapir, Yanisa. Yanisa the Stuffed Tapir was named after Valeri's daughter, who is half Russian and half Thai. The name means "Wisdom" in the Thai language. Some of us believe that tapirs are the wisest of all animals, so the name is perfect!

Tapirs at Chiangmai Zoo, Northern Thailand

As in the post above, these tapir photos were sent by Valeri Volodin of Russia. Those in the post above were taken by Valeri, and the two shown on this page were taken by his wife, Chanida.

As always, thanks for sending them. I know the blog readers will enjoy seeing these tapirs and the zoos where they live.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Baby tapir born just in time for World Tapir Day!

Check out the large version of this beautiful baby tapir photo here:

(NOTE: A stock photo (above) has been used in this article. It's still adorable, of course, but it's not Tara and Toby's baby. Thanks, Elisabeth for pointing that out and sending the URL. You can see the baby here. I think the photo may have been taken when the baby was only a few hours old or less. On the video we saw someone crouching the stall taking pictures. Be prepared. This baby is CUTE!)

Many in the UK and elsewhere have been watching Tara and Toby since last December. Nobody guessed the delivery date would be so late in the year, because it's hard to know that unless you know the date of conception, and clearly no one did. Gestation is 13 months, and it was quite a waiting game. You can read comments as people waited and fell in love with Toby and Tara:

By following this link, you can also see mom and baby as they interrelate and as the new baby gets used to his new surroundings and begins to grow. He'll gain roughly 1 pound per day for many months. Follow the posts below the zoo's description of the tapir, and you can also copy the link to the YouTube video of the birth. I hadn't expected anything like Tara's reaction to the contractions. Personally, the only tapir birth I've witnessed was online, and the video clip started when the baby was about to drop. I'm kind of glad I didn't see the actual birth in real time and only checked the cam about two minutes after junior was born, because I would have thought I was watching Tara having pre-death convulsions! But I've now heard from a reliable source (a tapir vet, no less) that this sort of reaction is quite usual in ungulates.

April 27, 2009: Cartoon Tapirs by Mary Beaird for World Tapir Day 2009

Here's another fun bit of tapir art uploaded to the "Tapirs" Google Group by artist Mary Beaird to help celebrate World Tapir Day. Click the pic for a larger image!

Please remember to join us on the World Tapir Day Facebook Page, and learn how you can contribute to saving a piece of tapir habitat in the rainforest of Ecuador.

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, April 24, 2009

Tapir t-shirts, just your size

Tapir-lovers come in all sizes, and so do our t-shirts! We special-ordered this 4x "Living in Harmony on Planet Earth" soft and cuddly t-shirt showing all four species of tapir for someone who had requested it. That's Barbara, by the way, showing of the shirt in our storefront. As you can tell, we love being surrounded by animals! Back to the t-shirt: don't hesitate to ask! If we can get it for you, we will! We stock tapir t-shirts from kids' sizes to adult, and we'll special order for you if we need to!

World Tapir Day Goes Global - big celebration in Kuala Lumpur - check out the signs and masks!

We borrowed this fantastic image from The Star Online. Follow the link and see how Zoo Negara and KL Hop On Hop Off are promoting tapir conservation in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia is one of the tapirs' native countries, and various entities within the country have been working to raise awareness of the need for tapir conservation for a number of years. The groundswell is growing, and it is so exciting to see World Tapir Day become part of the repertoire!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Patricia Medici and the Houston Zoo offer a guided tour to tapir country in the Pantanal of Brazil

Patricia Medici looks for signs of tapirs in the Pantanal of Brazil. Patricia Medici scouts potential tapir capture sites
for her radio-collaring project in Brazil's Pantanal.

Join the Houston Zoo and Terra Incognita Ecotours on a very special trip to Brazil's Pantanal August 23 - September 1, 2009.

Enjoy seeing animals and birds of the Pantanal region. The cost of your trip includes a donation to Patricia Medici's tapir conservation program. Read more about this remarkable opportunity on the web site of the Houston Zoo. For those of you who are interested in seeing tapirs, it is very possible to see tapirs in this environment, but a sighting is not guaranteed. As always, the animals tend to be elusive. However, the tapir popoulation in the Pantanal is relatively plentiful, and you may have as much chance to see them here as anywhere. This amazing habitat is rich with life, and your guide is experienced in the behavior of tapirs in the wild.

Click on the link above to read more about the tour on the Houston Zoo's web site. There you can also download a detailed PDF file with pictures of some of the Pantanal's exotic wild animals and descriptions of this special adventure guided by Patricia Medici and the Houston Zoo.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tapir art on a cell phone

In 2003, Katalin Pinter of Hungary programmed her phone with artwork of her favorite lowland tapirs, Samson and Mandula, and she sent me a photo of the phone. Thanks, Katalin, wherever you are! I'm sorry it took me so long to put it online!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Splash Damage Accidentally Starts Work on Tapir Wars Sequel

Originally posted by Anthony Long on "Tapirs" Google Group:

I'm a little late in posting it, but I've got there now:

Tapir Wars: Welcome to the Jungle™ is the semi-sequel to 2008's Odd-Toed Game of the Year Tapir Wars™. Set in Splash Damage's rich and unique Tapirverse™, Tapir Wars: Welcome to the Jungle gently nudges the boundaries of vegetarian warfare with a game that looks and plays exactly the same as its predecessor.

Tapir Wars: Welcome to the Jungle continues the story of an anonymous squad of elite tapirs who've seen it all as they blast, munch and cigar their way through the surprisingly sparse jungles of South East Asia, continuing their hunt for the rogue traitor mole double agent ninja zombie pirate mastermind only known as Nina who is also secretly a penguin.

To read more (and to be very jealous of the figurine), visit:

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, April 03, 2009

Sixty-three beautiful photos of Mona the baby Baird's tapir

I've just finished uploading and captioning 63 photos of Mona the Baird's tapir from her first formal photo shoot in December 1970. I think it was the day after she arrived from Panama. She still had the rope around her neck from her trip up on a plane in a large crate. We waited until the photo shoot was over to take it off, because we didn't want her to run into the street! My brother-in-law at that time, Bruce Wilson, came out to Claremont from Los Angeles to take the pictures. He was either still at Art Center School for photography or had recently graduated, so the quality of these photos is excellent. I finally found a scanner that will do a nice job scanning negatives and slides, and I borrowed it. I'm very excited, because it's the first time I've seen many of these pictures in a format larger than a 35 mm contact sheet, and I've never had such nice pictures of Mona to put online until now. This should be the beginning of being able to convert other tapir pictures from my files when I can find the time!

Briefly, the story behind Mona is that Russ Mittermeier (later founder of Conservation International) found her in a market in Panama while he was still in college and had been studying on Barro Colorado Island. The people were selling her for only $50.00. He knew her real value as an endangered species, and because he had met us and Stanley Tapir, he figured we'd give her a good home. He put her on a plane and shipped her up to the US. We only had to pay her airfare and the $50 he'd paid for her. We suspected she was being sold, as is typical, for a pet until she grew big enough to kill for food. Even in 1970, if the captors had known what she was worth to a zoo or animal collector, they would have been able to get about $3,000 to $3,500 for her. We were so lucky, and so was she! We raised her to the age of about 8 months, and then gave her to the San Diego Zoo where she lived to the age of 24. She had a number of babies, which were traded as far away as Japan and China. One went to the Zoo in Santa Barbara, California, and I was able to see her.

Mona was only about the fifth Baird's tapir in captivity in North America at the time we got her. There had been one or two in much earlier years, but they were gone. In the early 1970s, the Los Angeles Zoo had a pair, and the San Diego Zoo had a pair. The pair at Los Angeles were potential breeders, but the pair at San Diego were not showing any signs of breeding, although they were old enough. The staff thought that Mona could help produce a viable US-born Baird's tapir, and in fact, shortly after she arrived at the zoo the original female got pregnant. I won't try to figure out tapir psychology on that level, but her presence may have had something to do with it. When she was older, she became a second mate for Titus.

Growing up, Mona was a sweetie. Stanley tapir was a biter from Day 1, and I had to consider him potentially dangerous, although I loved him a lot. Mona never bit, and she liked sucking on fingers. You can see her doing that in one of these photos. At the age of eight months, when we drove her down to San Diego in our van, we didn't cage her, and the only way I could keep her settled down for the hour's drive was to let her suck on my fingers again. It was a little daunting with all those teeth, but she was very good about it. I was so sad to let her go, but it was the right thing to do. Anyway, you can imagine how I felt seeing these photos scanned so beautifully. I have more photos of her and of Stanley that I'll get around to scanning someday. They're of lesser quality unless a long-lost proof sheet turns up, so getting a chance to work from these negatives was quite a treat. Enjoy the photo album, and thanks for visiting!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Mountain tapirs in Colombia

There's an interesting new post on Sergio's blog with a nice photo of a mountain tapir. He makes some good comments about mountain tapir conservation in Colombia. You can see the post and photo here:

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