By January 12, Nashville Zoo Animal Care Staff had waited over 13 months for the arrival of the Zoo's second Baird's Tapir in two years. Soon after the calf's delivery it became clear that something was wrong.
The baby’s embryonic sac did not break, so he could not breathe and began to rapidly lose vitality. Zoo staff made the decision to intervene and moved mother Houston out of the stall. They then freed the baby from the sac, verified he still had a heart rate, and immediately cleared his airways and performed mouth-to-nose resuscitation until he was fully breathing on his own. Thanks to their heroic efforts and quick action, the calf is doing well.
Photo credits: Amiee Stubbs / Nashville Zoo
This is the second birth for mom Houston and her mate Romeo, who came to Nashville Zoo from Central America in 2008 to introduce a new genetic line into the United States Tapir population. Veteran ZooBorns readers may recall the 2010 birth of Noah, the pair's first-born.
“This birth is significant because it helps sustain a genetically diverse population of Tapirs in the United States,” said Lanny Brown, hoofstock supervisor at Nashville Zoo. “Tapirs have a gestation period of more than 13 months, so we have been looking forward to this baby for a long time.”
Read more and see the rest of the calf's baby pictures below the fold.
“It was very tense for the first few minutes, but because of our preparation and training, we were able to intervene and rescue the baby,” said Brown. “Mother and calf are now bonding and doing great. The baby loves being scratched and discovering how fast he can run around the barn. They will remain off exhibit until the weather warms up around March.”
Tapirs are broad, primitive creatures whose appearance has changed little in thousands of years. A relative of the horse and the rhino, Tapirs are the largest land animal in Central and South America. Though an adult Baird’s Tapir’s coat is solid brown, baby Tapirs are born with unique markings similar to a brown and white-striped watermelon. Juvenile Tapirs lose these marking after one year.