Belfast Zoo’s recent baby boom has continued with the birth of Marjorie, the Malayan Tapir. Marjorie was born on March 4 to parents Gladys and Elmer.
Zoo Curator Andrew Hope said, “Malayan tapirs are a beautiful but slightly unusual looking species. They are related to horses and rhinoceroses. The adults have a distinctive coat pattern and are black on the front and white on the back. However, when the calves are born they have beige spotted and striped markings, which make them look incredibly like ‘watermelons on legs’. Marjorie will begin to lose her markings after a few months. When she is six months old, she will look like a miniature adult!”
Malayan tapirs are the only tapir from Asia and are found in Indonesia, Burma (Myanmar), Malaysia and Thailand. This incredible species faces a high risk of extinction, with studies estimating that the population could decline by up to 50% over the next 30 years. The main reasons for their decline are the destruction of their forest habitats and they are also hunted for meat and sport.
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Zoo Manager Mark Challis is delighted with the recent arrival, saying, “This is a wonderful achievement for the whole Belfast Zoo team and for the Malayan tapir breeding program! They are such an endangered animal and every birth is vital to sustaining a captive population. As one of the most successful breeding pairs in Europe, Gladys and Elmer certainly demonstrate the collaborative efforts between zoos, as their offspring have moved to zoos throughout the world, including London Zoo, Amsterdam Zoo, Beauval Zoo (in France), Denver Zoo and Nuremberg Zoo (in Germany)!”