And what a celebration it was! Over 250 people came to the zoo and big smiles were seen everywhere. Environmental Educator Jamal Andrewin led the way, and proudly introduced our brand new tapir poster and also, another delightful tapir-friendly broadcast: A bumper sticker to commemorate April’s 30th birthday. However, this sticker also carries with it an important story.
A contest was held for school kids to come up with a slogan to celebrate April’s 30th year here in Belize. The winners, Angela, Tanya, Ruth and Alba from Buena Vista school in the Cayo District, were the creative force behind a new bumper sticker, spelling out “30 years of APRIL”….A ppreciation. P rotection. R espect. I ntegrity. L ove.
Another important story involved Wildlife Conservation Society biologist Mrs. Janet Gibson. Mrs. Gibson gave the zoo a charming photo of her daughter Claire, taken in 1983, with the then “toddler” April the tapir. Thirty years later, Claire Gibson, now thirty-two years old, visited the zoo again with her Mom and sought out her old friend, April. We merged the two photos together, and they tell a visual and profound story. Claire is an example of many children and adults, too, who have known this wonderful mountain cow, our significant representative National Animal, over the years. For three decades, April the tapir has brought the magic of her species, the Central American tapir, to thousands. Our nation has grown up with April. As a result, a greater understanding about her unique species, which, yes, is Endangered, has come about. And check out this important tapir-fact: April the tapir is the oldest female tapir in captivity!
April’s birthday celebration, meshed with National Tapir Day,( which was officially approved and declared by our Government last year), had the joy of music, too. The Panerrifix Steel Band Jr. Division from Belmopan, entertained everyone. And on the subject of entertaining…... Out tumbled the Belize City Tumblers to add a dash of acrobatic talent and awe to the big day. Jamal wisely planned the presentation of four birthday cakes for our beloved April. This gave all of the visiting school children a chance to view April happily devour a cake with pure glee as they sang the birthday song to her. She certainly did not mind having four small cakes instead of one big one.
April the tapir stands for so much at The Belize Zoo. For thirty years, she has brought a ton of joy and pride to the people of Belize. Without a doubt, it can be strongly stated that this one special animal, rescued as an injured baby thirty years ago, has opened the eyes and hearts of so many. April the tapir! Happy Birthday! You are a gift to our special nation. And a joy to us all. Many happy returns!