The French writer/illustrator Jean-Claude Forest is best known for his comic strip Barbarella, which was adapted in 1968 into a film starring Jane Fonda. A prolific and successful comic strip creator, Forest was also responsible for the character Tapir, the mastermind of interstellar organised crime in the 30th century.
Forest's Les Naufragés du Temps (hereafter referred to as 'LNdT') series tells the story of a couple of humans who were placed into cryonic hiberation in the 1990s as humanity faced being wiped out through pestilence. Christopher and Valérie awake in 2981, a time when Earth is threatened by alien, intelligent rats.
Of the many characters that Chris and Valerie encounter is Tapir, the largest criminal in the cosmos - another universe, allegedly. Tapir is depicted as a sword-wielding giant in a flowing cloak, who, despite originating from another universe, looks very much like a Brazilian tapir.
The title of LNdT references Jules Verne's novel The Mysterious Island, and, much in the style of Barbarella - itself dubbed "the first comic strip for grown-ups" - LNdT continues in the same vein. There were ten parts to the LNdT series, and Tapir featured in at least three of them. LNdT was first published in 1974, with multiple reprints since.
The third volume of LNdT was released in English as Lost in Time: Labyrinth in 1986, although Tapir was renamed The Boar (presumably because the intended target market was not as familiar with tapirs as it ought to have been). It has been described as a landmark of modern science fiction.
Forest died on 30 December 1998, having suffered from severe asthma for many years.
A new series on the WTD blog is a potted history of tapirs and brands from around the world. Whilst tapirs are not one of the flagship species that are used in marketing campaigns, they have nonetheless been featured from time to time. We'd love to hear from you about other brands and marketing campaigns that have featured tapirs - both current and past.
First up is Tapir Brand, a trade mark filed almost a century ago by a flour mill in Western Australia.
On 15 December 1919, the York Flour Milling Company Ltd filed a trade mark for Tapir Brand - one of three filed on that day (the others being Hoopoe Brand and Shuttlecock and Battledore Brand). The brands were presumably filed as part of a plan to expand its range of products. The filing occurred exactly a century after the Malayan tapir was first described in Western scientific literature by French zoologist Anselme Gaëtan Desmarest.
Based in the Western Australian town of York, around 100km east of Perth, the company began operations in 1892 as the Empire Milling Company. It began trading as the York Flour Milling Company in 1908, producing 3000 tonnes of flour, 900 tonnes of bran and 450 tonnes of pollard each year at its peak from its four-storey flour mill on Broome Street.
Registered as application 26762, the Tapir Brand trade mark was accepted in the following year on 5 March, registered over fifteen years later on 14 December 1935, and renewed 36 years later on 15 December 1961. Tapir Brand flour, to the best of my knowledge, never made it to market.
The flour mill closed as a working mill in 1967, and served as an arts centre to the local community until recently. Tapir Brand is a footnote in Australian trade mark history of a brand that was never used commercially that was submitted by a regional primary producer that ceased operating almost half a century ago.
With 2015 World Tapir Day just under four weeks away, it's time for another monthly update. WTD Central (Melbourne, Australia) has been busy working on plans for the future of World Tapir Day, not to mention working many long hours in paid employment (much as it'd be lovely to spend all day working on tapir-related activities, it doesn't actually pay - and one of the central tenets of WTD is that all funds raised through its efforts are donated towards tapir conservation projects).
So, without any further ado, here's the latest monthly roundup of tapir news.
Tapir reports and news highlights: March 2015
Leading the way in tapir news this month was National Geographic's report on an albino Brazilian tapir that was photographed by a camera trap last year. Photographer Luciano Candisani had heard reports of a local legend among the people living in a protected area of southeastern Brazil's Atlantic rain forest. They reported sightings of a pure-white tapir, so Candisani set up a camera trap in an attempt to photograph it. His good fortune has been great publicity for the threats facing tapir habitat in South America.
Malaysian newspaper the Sun Daily published an interesting opinion piece about Malayan tapirs, conservation efforts and the 'loan' of two pandas to the Malaysian Government by its Chinese counterpart. It highlights the massive sums of money spent on ensuring the pandas' loans, and the relative lack of money and engagement in protecting Malaysia's own iconic black and white species.
The ArtSemble Tapi Project (no typo) in Malaysia continues to produce tapirs in preparation for its exhibition at PenangPac to mark WTD this year, with a plan to tour the exhibition following this.
The central premise of the Tapi Project is to raise awareness about Malayan tapirs through visiting schools to conduct art workshops. ArtSemble members give a presentation about tapirs and another about contemporary art, before teaching the students how to sculpt tapirs with clay. These tapirs will form part of the art installation to be shown on World Tapir Day. They hope to have around 3,000 tapir sculptures in the installation to represent the number of Malayan tapirs remaining (which may indeed be slightly on the high side). The Facebook page has photos of the workshops and education sessions that ArtSemble has been running recently, with a lot of little tapirs now very much in evidence. We look forward to seeing the results soon!
Takepart.com is running an online poll to promote an upcoming Disney film. Whilst the film itself doesn't hold a lot of appeal to this writer, the 'Rare & Ready to Be Saved' bracket game does as it includes the Malayan tapir as one of the endangered species. Essentially a popularity contest, Tapirus indicus has made it into the final four animals and could do with your support to help it win. It's possible to vote once daily for each stage of the knock-out, so show your love of the Malayan tapir with your vote! Each vote also raises a small sum for Conservation International.
2015 World Tapir Day events
The WTD Facebook page is starting to amass the events that are being announced around the world to celebrate WTD this year. If you know of an event that is happening - or you are organising one yourself - we'd love to hear from you, and we'll promote it to the wider community. At the time of writing, there are a few events listed, but we're looking forward to being able to announce some others that we know of but aren't quite ready yet to promote.
It's been a slow couple of weeks and there haven't been recent tapir births around the world of late!
Welcome to the latest WTD update. It's a little late to be the February one, but as the month is so short, it has slipped into March. In the interest of not delaying it any further, here it is - short and to the point!
Tapir reports and news highlights: February 2015
Malaysian online magazine Poskod.my reported on the #tapitapir campaign to raise awareness about the Malayan tapir. During the Malaysian leg of the "1600 Pandas" world tour, a group of Malaysians decided to crash the Panda World Tour with a model of a single tapir, accompanied by a sign: #TapiTapir.
The Tapir Specialist Group (TSG) has updated its Tapir Veterinary Manual. It is an updated version of the first Tapir Veterinary Manual published by the IUCN/SSC TSG in 2007. Several veterinarians, biologists, nutritionists, reproduction physiologists and researchers reviewed and made contributions to this document based on their in-situ and/or ex-situ experience with the four tapir species. The 13 Chapters and several appendices in this manual offer valuable information on many important topics for veterinarians working with tapirs, including: handling tapirs in the wild and in captivity, anesthesia protocols, treatment protocols and guidelines for medical and nutritional care. The Manual is available from the TSG website.
The Tapir Preservation Fund has launched its new website as part of its efforts to raise tapir conservation efforts. The TPF is a nonprofit organisation that works for the conservation of the four tapir species that inhabit the tropics of Central America, South America, and Southeast Asia. It raises funds to deliver to field projects focused on the conservation of threatened tapir populations. Sheryl Todd has been involved with tapir conservation and education since she first rescued a Brazilian tapir - Stanley K - over four decades ago..
A Malayan tapir had to be rescued from a ditch in Kuantan in Malaysia, having fallen into a ditch.
Tapir births have been reported at:
Taiwanese artist Cherng (whom we'll cover in detail at some stage in the future) spends much of his time drawing tapirs, which has led to his work appearing around the Taipei Zoo, on many consumer items, as well as featuring in the new video of Taiwanese alt rock band Mayday.
You'll never see as many dancing tapirs in a single location as you will in the following video. Or tapir-fish, tapir mannequins, or Malayan tapirs in other contexts that you'd never thought you'd see them in.
Every now and again, we come across a tapir-related project or activity that makes us very happy. The Tapi Project is the latest of these, and reminds us why World Tapir Day was founded originally.
Based in Malaysia, the Tapi Project is an initiative of the artist collective ArtSemble. It is a tapir awareness art installation project that will be exhibited at the Penang Performing Arts Centre for World Tapir Day, with a plan to tour the exhibition following this.
The central premise of the Tapi Project is to raise awareness about Malayan tapirs through visiting schools to conduct art workshops. ArtSemble members give a presentation about tapirs and another about contemporary art, before teaching the students how to sculpt tapirs with clay. These tapirs will form part of the art installation to be shown on World Tapir Day. They hope to have around 3,000 tapir sculptures in the installation to represent the number of Malayan tapirs remaining (which may indeed be slightly on the high side).
To help its efforts, ArtSemble has created a crowdfunding page to raise money to support its efforts. Supporters will receive a range of tapir-themed items, including t-shirts, key rings and sculptures.
Here at WTD HQ, we think that it's a brilliant idea, and one that really deserves to succeed. If you'd like to help support a tapir education project, this is a pretty good one to choose.
As part of the overhaul of the World Tapir Day website, a blog has been added - welcome to what is now the second post on it!
New WTD website and a call to arms
The big news from WTD in January has been - not surprisingly - the relaunched website. It has been a long time in concept, a relatively short time in development, but a very long time in need. The original website was developed in early 2008 (in preparation for the first WTD), and whilst there were updates to it, the underlying software and structure proved to be far more complicated to maintain than had been anticipated. Rather than being able to focus on content, a lot of time was spent on keeping it functioning. Over the intervening years, the Facebook page became the primary World Tapir Day presence on the Internet, with our Twitter account playing a secondary role in spreading the tapir conservation message.
With the start of the new year, we decided that it was time to finally retire the old site and deliver the website that was planned from the beginning. Instead of focusing on software updates and maintaining databases, the new backend allows us to get on with the important work - World Tapir Day and raising awareness of tapir conservation.
This is where you come in. World Tapir Day is a volunteer-run project, and without volunteers, we aren't able to achieve as much as we'd like to be able to. No matter where you live or what your experience is, we'd love to have your involvement. The WTD plan for 2015 involves a lot of website content creation, news updates, media releases and the development of information resources for people and organisations wishing to celebrate World Tapir Day around the world. This involves a range of skills, including graphic design, copywriting and website and social media updating, not.to mention develop creative ideas about how the message of tapir conservation can be promoted to a wider audience. One does not need to be a tapir researcher (but we'd love to have some write a few articles for us!) to be part of the WTD effort - a willingness to contribute and a love of tapirs is all one needs.
It you would like to be part of the World Tapir Day experience, please get in contact with us.
Tapir reports and news highlights: January 2015
Heather D'Angelo's article on Mongabay gives an insight into the work of the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative (LTCI) that was founded in Brazil in 2008 to conduct long-term research into new insights into the relationship between the health of tapir populations and their environment. The research studied tapir population from two of the four Brazilian biomes: the Pantanal and the Atlantic Forest, and is being used to develop conservation strategies and inform landowners about how best to manage their livestock to reduce the impact on native species.
- "Time for a checkup: researchers examine the health of lowland tapirs", 7 January 2015.
Malaysian Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz called for groups to look into the conservation of another “black and white” animal – the equally endangered Malayan tapir –.at the launch of the World Panda Tour in Malaysia. Since the announcement in mid-2014 of China loaning a pair of pandas to Malaysia, there has been recognition in some quarters of Malaysian society that the high profile panda attracts far more conservation attention than Malaysia's own species.
The birth of a Malayan tapir calf at Edinburgh Zoo on New Year's Eve has received extensive media coverage. The male calf has been named Mekong, after the delta river which flows through where the animals are found in the wild, and he is said to be "lively and very distinctive".
Malaysian magazine Hype has covered the #tapirtapir campaign that was launched in response to the "1,600 Pandas" exhibition that has been touring Malaysia recently. The appearance of a lone papier mache tapir at the exhibition served as a reminder that tapirs face extinction too. Despite being a protected animal in several regions including Malaysia, the number of tapirs continue to decrease, with perhaps fewer than 2,000 Malayan tapirs remaining.
A Brazilian tapir at the Municipal Park Zoo "Quinzinho de Barros" in Brazil has undergone dental surgery to treat teeth that were preventing him from eating (link in Portuguese).
It's been a long time in coming, but it's finally here. Welcome to the new website for World Tapir Day!
The WTD website existed in its previous form since the creation of World Tapir Day as a concept in early 2008. Whilst it served the purpose well to begin with, the updating, expansion and general maintenance was far too difficult (at least, for the current writer). As a consequence, the site fell into neglect.
It hadn't been updated since 2013, and with the WTD Facebook page attracting a solid following and serving as a central point for WTD-related news, there hadn't been any particular reason to devote large amounts of (mostly non-existent) free time to working out how best to resolve the issues. The forum had been long dead, content had not been updated to fix broken links and fixing the problems was more work than simply replacing it.
And here it is - the new website for World Tapir Day. Whilst it is still very much a work in progress, it is already a vast improvement over the old one. There's more content, updated content and links, but more importantly, the site fundamentals have been replaced so that it is far easier and quicker to update. And it has a blog.
We'd like to hear your feedback about the new WTD website. We are also keen to have your involvement with it - and with WTD. If you are interested in contributing content - be that articles, photos or art - or would like to write for the blog about tapir-related and environmental-related themes, please do contact us. We'd love to hear from you.
The World Tapir Day blog. Posts about World Tapir Day, tapirs, conservation, the environment and random tapir-related topics.