What do a tapir and Mel Gibson have in common?


Oh, so many jokes we could make -- but there's a serious answer. As our regular readers know, my favorite animal is the tapir, so I was delighted to read that a Baird's tapir named Scooter has a starring role in Apocalypto, the upcoming Gibson movie about ancient South American odd-toed ungulates tribes fighting a gruesome war. I was less delighted to learn that the tapir (well, actually, an animatronic doppelganger) will be chopped apart and eaten:

Apparently the tribe needs to hunt and kill a tapir and eat its testicles for fertility purposes. (No real animals were harmed during the filming--an animatronic tapir was built with help from staff at the Los Angeles Zoo who measured their Baird's tapir for the production company.) ... The funniest thing that happened was on the occasion that Scooter had to run up a small hill escaping from the hunters. [Veterinarian Jesus] Barroso was in the lead running outside of camera's sight. When he got to the top of the hill, he had to quickly move to one side of Scooter's trajectory in order not to be filmed. The idea was that Scooter was supposed to continue in a straight path, but Scooter had his own ideas. When Barroso jumped to one side and hid in the bushes, Scooter stopped dead in his tracks and went after Barroso, sniffing and nudging him with his nose to get him back on his feet and go where Scooter thought he was supposed to go. That got a big laugh from all the crew.

Mel Gibson's involvement aside, the movie looks pretty freakin' awesome.