'Allo Allo' - 'Rene' the Tapir arrives from France

Written by: Michelle Turton

Submitted: 23th October 2006

Rene the new male tapir arrived at Newquay zoo just over a week ago and immediately settled in with Papita. In Paraguay and Argentina tapirs are hunted for their hides, which are commonly used in Paraguay to make sandals that are sold to tourists as souvenirs.

'rene' the new tapir

'rene' the new tapir at newquay zoo

Rene the new Tapir

Earlier this year 'Tippy' a male Tapir at Newquay Zoo was moved to South Lakes Wild Animal Park in Cumbria to give 'Pipita' (the female and mum of 'Humbug' born in January) a break over the summer months as she had given birth to five babies over the last five years. This also gave staff the opportunity to look for a new mate for Papita.

Stewart Muir Assistant Director comments " 'Rene' the new male arrived just over a week ago and immediately settled in with Papita. He was born in July 2005 at Zoo de la Barben in the South of France. 'Humbug' the baby Tapir, well not such a baby now as he is full size, was not so keen on the new 'Rene' so we have had to keep them separate. It is planned that 'Humbug' will move to another zoo shortly to join a female and start his own family. This then allows 'Rene' and 'Papiti' to breed which is vital for this endangered species."

Deforestation, hunting and competition with domestic livestock are the main threats to Brazilian Tapirs. Hunting for tapir meat is increasing as the wild-meat industry develops, with tapir meat now frequently sold in city markets throughout South America. In Paraguay and Argentina tapirs are hunted for their hides, which are commonly used in Paraguay to make sandals that are sold to tourists as souvenirs. In Colombia the species is listed as endangered due to over-hunting. Tairs have also been taken from the wild to be kept as pets by Paraguayan and Peruvian aristocracy, where they are often poorly cared for and malnourished. Other threats include anti-drug chemicals used by authorities against cocaine growers, which can eventually end up in the food chain and poison tapirs. Road-kills are also common in reserves within close proximity to human settlement.

The IUCN/SSC is a Tapir Specialist Group which helps develop projects that will reduce hunting by establishing more reserves and promoting the sustainable harvest of wildlife by rural hunters. The second priority is to reduce habitat destruction through firmly managed agro-forestry projects. For more information visit: www.tapirspecialistgroup.org