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The film crew recently visiting Belize for a TV series called “ Mad Dogs”, paid a visit to The Belize Zoo as part of their filming agenda.   They wanted to obtain film footage of a tapir in order to add “local colour” to their adventure series,” Mad Dogs”.  Indy the Tapir was ready and willing to be a film star for  this production.  And what a star he was!  The requests from the Director and cameraman had Indy the tapir’s companion and trainer holding back laughter…”Could you get him to turn more perpendicular and not keep his rear-end to the side?”   Could you get him to walk four steps closer to the camera, stop, and look straight into the lens?”  Here is the fun scoop on the above…Indy the Tapir did all of that and more!  And what is the secret of his filming talents?  Cecropia Leaf (trumpet tree) smeared in peanut butter!   It was clear to his companion that all and anything was possible from Indy the tapir as long as there was a  “four-star” treat for a reward.

Celso Poot of The Belize Zoo, has undertaken hours of field studies on our beloved National Animal, the Central American tapir.  He has specifically targeted tapir activity in central Belize.  Much about the movements and habits of Mountain Cows in the Burrell Boom area that we now know, is owed to Celso and his important fieldwork.  The “Tapir Crossing” signs at key points of tapir activity along the Boom Road, were placed there by Celso.  Do they work?  He reports that since the signs have been erected, there have been no repeated collisions between tapirs and vehicles.

Camera trapping has revealed that some of our tapirs will visit the backyards of people living in

Burrell Boom and Ladyville areas.  With the awareness level as it is, thanks to years of widespread education about our National Animal, it is hoped that a strong sense of care and concern will be shown towards the tapirs wandering about human-inhabited areas.

Our beloved National Animal is also an Endangered species.   And the role that our Mountian Cows play in maintaining a healthy forest is critical.  They are known to be important seed dispersers in a tropical forest.  Eating seeds at one area, and pooping out those seeds in another, is “tapir technique” forest ecology and management.   The fieldwork being accomplished currently will provide a solid base of information, contributing to forming  vital strategies aimed at protecting these special animals in the wild.

The TV program “Mad Dogs” will introduce the wonderful National Animal of Belize, to many.  And perhaps Indy the Tapir has a new career world opening up for him!...As long as we keep the peanut butter- covered trumpet tree leaf as part of his film contract!


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