Hamilton Zoo has said farewell to Brazilian tapir Mrs Branco, one of the longest and arguably most loved residents.
Mrs Branco, affectionately known as Mrs B, who recently turned 28 years old, became suddenly unwell on Sunday and passed away peacefully surrounded by her zoo family.
Hamilton Zoo Director Perrin Aish says the passing of an animal is always tough for staff, supporters and visitors, but Mrs B’s death was deeply felt considering the number of lives she had touched and the special relationship she had developed with the staff.
“Mrs B had a big personality and has been a unique part of Hamilton Zoo since 1992, helping form many fond memories for our children over the years,” says Mr Aish.
“We’re all feeling the loss and we know the wider community will be also as many visitors regularly stop in to see her and have a chat.”
“She was well-loved and, due to being a bit of a regular in the media – the latest a starring role in an episode on kids show Fanimals. She was very popular.”
“Just a beautiful soul everyone had a soft spot for, and she will be very missed.”
Mrs B was the only Brazilian tapir in New Zealand. Born in May 1991 at Adelaide Zoo, she was transferred to Hamilton in October the following year.
Her life was spent alongside Mr Branco, her Brazilian Tapir partner. Mr B arrived at Hamilton Zoo from Dubbo Zoo in 1991 and they stayed together until he died in September 2016.
Mrs B was a big fan of eating and being on the receiving end of a good scratch from her keepers. She could also often be found enjoying a swim in the pond in the enclosure she shared with the spider monkeys and Gerald the goose.
A relative of the rhinoceros, Brazilian tapir are found in the rainforested areas of South America and are considered vulnerable.
Photo credit: Zoo Host, Hugh Tomlinson.