On the 25th March 2018 I had the opportunity to meet the two gorgeous Brazilian Tapirs at Blackpool Zoo (for the second time) when carrying out the `Tickle a Tapir’ experience. I chose to book myself onto the experience following on from my Zookeeper day, where I developed a keen interest in Tapirs and fell in love with their unique personalities. It was certainly a highlight of my day which I wanted to experience again. The experience was incredible and lasted approximately an hour – in this time I fed the two Tapirs (named Pocahontas and Jafar) and learned more about them in the process. Including the fact that they have a very hearty appetite and their long snouts were proving to be very beneficial in their overall survival process, aiding in feeding and breathing.
Brazilian Tapirs are just one species of Tapir. They are intelligent, Herbivorous (feeding on plants, vegetables and fruits) Mammals from South America. With a life expectancy of around 30 years old. Unfortunately, their conservation status is vulnerable – meaning their species are at risk of becoming endangered due to habitat loss, and since they are hunted for their meat and skin, which is used to make leather, it saw a massive decline in their overall species number.
Blackpool Zoo are just one of many Zoos in The UK who carry out vital conservation work, which is important in playing a crucial role in protecting our fantastic animal species from facing extinction. Without Zoos, we would’ve lost many animals due to dangers and threats in their natural environments.
I was greeted in the reception area where I eagerly waited with my Mum and her partner Chris, by a Zookeeper and one of the men from the work experience department, from which we headed down to the Tapir enclosure together. I was given a talk about the Tapirs and then into the enclosure we headed, ready to be greeted by two very hungry and curious Tapirs.
Pocahontas is two years old and Jafar is seventeen years old. I could differentiate the two when I realised that Jafar still had markings on his legs from his younger days. Typically, Tapirs will lose their markings at around the age of two, but Jafar didn’t lose some of his. The pair had recently had some dental work done and I was warned (beforehand) by the Zookeeper that they may be quite wary of me; considering they had been sedated a few weeks ago I found them to be very friendly and trustworthy. Yet, understandably, curious.
The experience is certainly something I would recommend to others, and would carry out again myself. I found the experience both fun and informative. The keepers were very knowledgeable and quick to answer any questions, or queries, I had. My experiences at Blackpool Zoo have always been positive and memorable, I am a very proud member and a definite visitor for life.
Lots of love,