A Habitat Expansion for Alma (And a Few of Her Friends, Too)

Alma, our lovely blind resident tapir, recently received a habitat expansion. We do wildlife rehab & release when there is a local need.

In 2018 Alma arrived, and, while she arrived intending to be released, we immediately discovered she was mostly blind and later discovered she suffered from seizures. Those two health issues mean she can never safely or successfully live in the wild.

Her new area connects to the yard she has called home since her arrival. Due to her vision issues, Alma can run into fences and gates when having an episode, so we reinforced all fences and gates. She’s 200 pounds, so, even accidentally running into a fence can damage it, and we can’t risk her getting out. Although if she ‘escaped’ from that yard, she would end up in our fenced in backyard. We had to dig out some large rocks and cover others in dirt, again, to keep her safe – we don’t want her to injure herself if she has a seizure near any or walks into them.

Even though we try our best to keep the chickens from reproducing, sometimes they sneak off and have secret roosts that we can’t find, and they’ll show up a few weeks later with cute babies in tow. One of those Mama chickens decided that the area we were working on for Alma’s habitat expansion was the perfect place for her and her tiny babies to live. Once the habitat was ready, we opened up it up for Alma with the assumption the Mama chicken would find a new place to raise her baby chicks.

She did not. Even if we moved her to another location, the chickens run free here, so she and her babies would just come back. Since Alma can’t see, we’ve been concerned about the baby chickens in Alma’s space.

Alma is pretty docile and friendly, although she did not arrive that way. She even has a rooster friend named Ian who hangs out with her, but Ian knows to move out of Alma’s way, and we didn’t know if the baby chickens would. We really can’t argue with a chicken – especially not these chickens that do what they want and go where they want. So, we just nervously hoped for the best.

Kat went out the other night to check on Alma, who was sleeping right next to the baby chickens. They were sleeping two inches apart. Apparently, Alma, Mama, and baby chicks have worked out some sort of understanding. They’ve been sharing a habitat for over a week now, and everyone seems to be fine with the arrangement.

(and yes, that night, Ian was sleeping in the yard too, he was just on top of the corral).

Video of Alma enjoying some browse (a branch with leaves).

April 26, 2020


  1. REPLY
    Heidi says

    Love stories of unexpected animal friends!

  2. REPLY
    Barb says

    The life of Alma and the chicks would make a cute children’s story. When our beloved horse became blind, I kept the radio on in the barn so he could find his way.

  3. REPLY
    SusN says

    Adorable!!!! ❤️❤️❤️

  4. REPLY
    Linda Lalonde says

    Crunch Crunch Munch Munch!! And that amazing nose! 🙂

  5. REPLY
    Sheila says

    Beautiful‼️?❤️ great for alma?

  6. REPLY
    Sherry says

    Thank you for taking care of all the animals. It is good to learn about the animals too. I love to hear the rooster crowing.

  7. REPLY
    Kelejan says

    What a delight to see different species living together and I love the way you provide for them and keep them safe.

  8. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    Alma is so sweet. Forgot how heavy she is! Sweet girl enjoy your food sweet pea.

  9. REPLY
    Sallie Robbins-Druian says

    Such a beautiful visual, to have a blind but obviously loving tapir, being an excellent protector and so sensitive to baby chicks! Now there will be chicks everywhere, looking for Alma, Mama #2! I can see a children’s book in this . . . It doesn’t matter what we look like, it is how be behave to others . . . Start writing and drawing!

  10. REPLY
    Carme Lucia Souza says

    I really love SEB stories!!! Alma and the baby chickens what a wonderful story!

  11. REPLY
    Patricia says

    Now I’ve got to learn more about tapirs. Her snoot! So cute! Bless you for taking Alma in. Bless Alma for being so sensitive to the needs of littler beings. Hugs and smoochies to all!

  12. REPLY
    Rosie P says

    As Sallie and Barb have mentioned you could certainly write a great children’s story about Alma, the chicks and her life at ESB. It’s a book in the making!!!!!!
    If only the world could be as compassionate towards other species and care for the environment as you do in ESB. What a wonderful world it would be!
    BTW, do you know how old Alma might be?

    • REPLY
      EleComposer says

      No, we don’t have any idea how old Alma is. She’s small, but she was unhealthy – but still smaller than most of the antas that we released that were younger than her. So her size is more likely related to her overall health. Her teeth were horrible from the get-go so we can’t use those to age her.

      • Rosie P says

        Thank you so much for that. I hope sweet Alma continues to enjoy her life at ESB. She deserves this as life had not been fair to her….but she has now scored the jackpot living in ESB! LOL! Much love to you all.xxxxxxxxxxx

  13. REPLY
    Tammy says

    Love it ? one big huge happy loving family! You guys are amazing big hugs stay well everyone!

  14. REPLY
    Shirley Taylor says

    I really love your posts to us never a dull moment for you all, I wonder if the animals all realise how lucky they are to live with you. X

  15. REPLY
    Lori Hoover says

    Awww, I have to wonder……….are those also Ian’s little ones? Or, are the hens discrete and won’t tell? Alma is just precious. I can’t thank you enough for all you do for her. I’ve always been fascinated with Brazil and it’s wildlife, it’s so interesting to learn more about some of them from GSE.

    • REPLY
      EleComposer says

      ? Yes, discretion is key (and even if it wasn’t, there’s no way to know which of the roosters is daddy).

  16. REPLY
    carey says

    Well done Kat and everyone, lovely stories thank you!

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