First Published: 3rd of February, 2022 by Patrick Carpen.Last updated: April 29, 2023 at 5:24 am
Berlinda Francis, of Katoonarib Village in the South Rupununi Savannahs of Guyana, South America is a farmer, cook, and small scale rancher. She also has a strong and inherent love for animals. And in this context, she shares her story of adopting a pet tapir from the time it was only a few months old.
Berlinda relates that, in the month of June, 2020, the tapir was brought to her by a friend who had transported it from Maruranau Village in the deep south Rupununi, and unable to care for it any longer, entrusted the tapir into the hands of Berlinda. At that time, the tapir was of the size slightly bigger than a cat.
He called me and told me that he would like to leave the tapir with me because he could not care for it any longer, and he knew that I have a love for animals. I didn’t go searching for the tapir, it fell into my hands, so I took care of it. When it was a baby, I used to bathe it and stuff, but now I can no longer do that since it is very big.
Berlinda said she didn’t know what a baby tapir looked like at that time, and at first thought it was a labba. At that time, Berlinda was taking care of a calf whose mother was not around by feeding it with a nursing bottle, and so she did the same thing with the tapir, and the calf and the tapir became good friends. Later, the calf got bigger and went away with the other cows, but the tapir stayed with Berlinda.
Berlinda relates that after it passed the bottle-feeding stage, she fed the tapir with watermelon, bread, papaya, banana, and porridge. The tapir would go out in the evenings and return home late in the night or the next morning. And when Berlinda is away from home, the tapir would be gone for several days before returning home.
Berlinda wants the tapir to be free and safe, and to return to the wild in due time. In this context, she fears that someone might be tempted to harm the tapir since people are not used to seeing a tapir so close to the village. Further, someone might want to kill the tapir for its meat.
Although tapirs are herbivores, they have been known to attack humans, although such attacks are very rare. If you see Duane the tapir near to Katoonarib Villlage in the South Rupununi, please treat it with care since it has been conditioned to humans and even less likely to attack humans. Even so, due caution should be taken, especially with children.
This is Duane the tapir. He lives in Katoonarib and roams around the Dadanawa, Sawariwau, area sometimes. He has lived with me since he was a baby and is accustomed to being around humans. I am just asking everyone in the surrounding areas that if you see him….please do not harm him…just let him be.Berlinda Francis