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Fuego the Tapir, Welcome to Tapir Town!

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The story of “Fuego” the tapir begins on a sad note.   He found his way to The Belize Zoo during the height of those horrendous fires of this past dry season.   Apparently, the forest, which was home to the baby tapir and his mother, became a scorched landscape.   This harsh and sudden change in their territory caused mom and calf to become separated.   “Fuego” was found, crying and alone, in the middle of a dirt road. 

Rescued by the zoo, he was given immediate care which saw “Fuego” become a beloved new zoo member.  For months, the little fellow lived off-site.  He was visited every hour by zoo staff.   “Fuego” was fed, brushed, and comforted.   Some may say he was “spoiled”.  But an orphaned representative National Animal of Belize deserves to be spoiled!

We also saw an opportunity to use the story of “Fuego” as a lesson.  Needless burning of the forest is an environmental tragedy.   Smoke-filled air results.  This is harmful to children and irritating to so many.  Think about what happens to the many species of plants and animals living in those forests.    From large cats to small turtles, nesting birds and sleeping owls, all are in for an unfortunate experience.    And sadly, many of these fires are caused by human-actions, not by lightening or natural causes. “Fuego” will be a reminder: Forest fires should be prevented, not encouraged.

At the zoo, we made all the necessary preparations for “Fuego” to become introduced to our lovely female, “Navidad”.    Animal introductions are done with careful and cautious address.  Initially, “Fuego” and “Navidad” showed a fondness for one another thru the fence, which separated them.  A few days of their being close neighbors, led us to the next big step.  We opened the gate and within minutes, the two mountain cows were sharing the same territory.

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“Auntie Navidad” quickly got a tapir-vote-of-approval from young “Fuego”.  The zoo staff all had big smiles as we watched the two tapirs spend a long time sniffing each other. Then, what we believe was their “tapir thumbs up”, “Navidad” and “Fuego” gave each other a mountain cow kiss.

Tapir Town is now better than ever with the addition of “Fuego” the tapir!   He is an important animal, with a vitally important message for all.  STOP NEEDLESS FOREST FIRES.  NO MORE “FUEGOS”!!

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