Unexpected tapir ‘visit’ a good omen, says hotelier

MELAKA: An unexpected visit by a Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus) to the heart of the historic city is a good omen for the year ahead, says seasoned hotelier Datuk Chuck Kassim.

The Hatten Hotels Worldwide group general manager said he finds it astonishing for the mammal, listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2008, to stray so far from its natural habitat and ended up at one of the hotels managed by him.

“You don’t get a charming animal right on your doorstep going up all the way to the fifth floor of Estadia Hotel and surprisingly, it travelled along a busy commercial hub of the city without anyone noticing it until my staff encountered it.

“It’s not an ordinary greeting. It’s a shot of positive energy for me and my team,” he said after treating local revellers to hotel meals in conjunction with the upcoming Chinese New Year here on Thursday (Jan 19).

The dinner with the local folks is the first step for Kassim to strengthen his engagement with ordinary folks to increase the hotel’s value as a partner to social service providers and non-governmental organisations in the state.

Kassim said using the iconic animal as an ambassador of Hatten Hotels would inject a fresh spirit to bolster the hotel group’s mission to enhance the well-being of local communities.

“The Year of the Rabbit will witness a new episode on our do-good initiatives with the tapir as our icon.

“We have already started talks to work together with a non-profit organisation that serves the terminally ill including children,” he said as he expressed optimism that his team will be ready to execute various programmes and events to reach out to the needy.

“This Chinese New Year will be the time we will vigorously start spreading our love and commitment to the local community,” he said.

On Jan 1, a female tapir had wandered into the Estadia Hotel at Bandar Hilir here.

The state Wildlife and National Parks Department and firemen took more than five hours to capture the animal unharmed.

Kassim felt that the arrival of the animal at the hotel will prove to be auspicious.

“Japanese people love the tapir so much that even a Pokemon character resembles a tapir.

“Based on Japanese folklore, a Baku (a creature resembling a tapir) is a ‘nightmare eater’,” he said.

Chuck Kassim’s years of experience in the hospitality industry promote his optimism in stewarding his team in augmenting various programmes and events relating to socialism as well as reaching out to the needy.

His years in the industry have also helped him to comprehend the cultural nuance of the locals and he intends to apply it when organising social works by maintaining excellent service as a benefactor.

“This Chinese New Year will be the time we will vigorously start spreading our love and commitment to the local community,” he added.