Meet Minnesota Zoo’s newest resident – a Malayan tapir! Born on July 30th, the adorable new addition made his public debut earlier this month. The new calf is only the second tapir to be born there in 22 years.
Tapir moms typically give birth every two to four years after a lengthy gestation period of about 13 months, a survival adaptation that means the offspring are already very developed at birth and can walk almost instantly.
Weighing just 19 pounds (around 9kg) at birth, the youngster has since piled on some weight and is now a healthy 25 pounds (about 11kg). For the first six to eight months of their lives, baby tapirs sport a stripy coat that’s believed to help camouflage them in their dappled forest habitat.
The youngster is not just an adorable new attraction at the zoo; he’s also of vital importance for conservation efforts. The species is endangered and estimates suggest that there are fewer Malayan tapirs than tigers living in the wild. Habitat loss as a result of deforestation, illegal trade and flooding caused by dam building for hydroelectric projects all pose a threat to the species. A Species Survival Plan (SSP) helps manage captive populations throughout the United States with the hope that these animals can aid wild populations in the future.
“We are very excited to welcome this new tapir to the Minnesota Zoo,” says the zoo's Tom Ness. “Malayan tapirs are endangered, and this birth is a significant conservation achievement as it is estimated that fewer than 1,500 exist in the wild. This is an example of the great care the zoo’s animal care teams provide our animals.”
You can watch the new arrival via a special tapir webcam (make sure you’re using Internet Explorer), and if you're feeling creative, take a stab at naming the newborn.