The Elephant Sanctuary Brazil team is sad to bring you the news that our resident rescue tapir, Alma, has passed away. Though we are primarily an elephant sanctuary, we have always sought to play a role in the local community by providing rescue and release programs for native animals. That is how Alma came to live with us, and she was at ESB for longer than most of the elephants now in our care – and many of you know her for that reason.
When Alma was brought to us, it was immediately apparent that she wouldn’t be a candidate for release. The issues her prior facility thought to be behavioral were actually neurological. We knew very quickly that she was almost entirely blind and, over the next few weeks, we found that she had seizures as well. So, as part of her care, we made the most natural home for her that we could in the smaller yards near the house. We were initially told that Alma was young because she was so small, but she never grew, and her teeth looked like those of an older animal. As a result, it was difficult to determine how old she was.
For as compromised as her body was, Alma did well for a number of years. Though she had some coordination issues sometimes, we were able to get her seizures under control and they became rare. Our staff decorated her enclosure with many different branches to ensure she had natural foods and smells along with her regular diet. She behaved somewhat wild at first, but Alma learned to trust and love her caregivers with time. She hit a couple of bumps in the road, medically, over the years, with things that probably wouldn’t impact a normally healthy tapir. But her entire body was weakened by years of health struggles, and she reacted differently as a result. Little by little, Alma’s body stopped bouncing back as quickly as it once did, and she became ill a few months ago. We tried several different treatments and medications, continuing her physical therapy, but she couldn’t reach the healthier place she once knew. Alma might rally for a few days, but it never lasted long.
After consulting with a team of veterinarians, her caregivers, and sanctuary staff, we realized that we’d run out of options for Alma’s care, she was no longer comfortable, and everyone was on the same page. The decision was made that the most humane thing to do would be to euthanize her. Alma is buried in a field somewhat near her enclosure, on a hilltop that is frequently visited by other tapirs. You can see beautiful sunsets from that spot. Alma was a big part of our daily routine here at the sanctuary and, in turn, a big part of our lives. At the moment, there’s an Alma-shaped space here and she will be dearly missed.
P.S.: Scott filmed an Instagram live video this morning of Pocha and Guillermina playing in the mud wallow. You can watch it here: https://www.instagram.com/tv/Cd3Yswyl–0/