Friday, August 22, 2014

The best job in the world?

Tiquie the tapir feels good.

Have you moisturised today? Yes, it’s true that SAT has included a few zoo posts this week but when we found out that Taronga Zoo’s Brazilian Tapir, ‘Tiquie’, has a regular moisturising session we could not resist. People think companion animal vets have an awesome job, and I'm not going to lie, it has its moments. But never in my career have I been required to moisturise a tapir.

That's a happy tapir.
Keepers gave Tiquie a hands-on health check and grooming session this week, rubbing diluted QV oil into her skin to prevent it drying out and brushing her wiry brown mane. (What a PR coup for QV – everyone with dry skin and a wiry mane will be rushing out to buy this stuff now!).

“Although Tapirs are normally solitary and quite elusive in the wild, Tiquie loves the interaction of the grooming sessions. She’ll close her eyes and tilt her head back when we’re rubbing the oil onto her skin and often roll onto her back for a tummy tickle,” said Keeper, Nat Dunn. Tiquie’s daily grooming sessions are also an opportunity for keepers to educate zoo visitors about Tapirs and their challenges in the wild. Although Tapirs have survived for millions of years, their future is under threat. They are hunted extensively for food, sport and for their thick skins and their jungle and forest habitat is disappearing due to destruction caused by logging and clearing of land for agriculture.

Of course, in the wild Tapirs don’t have access to QV oil either…but it is good to see this focus on enrichment.

Taronga is helping to protect Tapirs in the wild through its support of the LowlandTapir Conservation Initiative, which is promoting research and conservation of Lowland Tapirs and their remaining habitats in Brazil.

The beautiful photos were taken by Paul Fahy.