On January 6, Poland's Wroclaw ZOO welcomed the birth of a little female South American Tapir. This striped little girl is healthy, nursing regularly, and growing strong. She will be weaned in about 6 months. She has been named Melba, and spends her days in an indoor exhibit where guests can watch her playing and cuddling with Sabrina, her mother.
Although this is Sabrina's ninth baby, she is a little bit overprotective. According to keepers, Mom spends a little too much time licking her daughter.... but the youngster is very patient and calmly tolerates this nurturing behavior. As a result, the baby often has hair that looks a little spiky, like she used hair gel.
Photo Credit: Wroclaw ZOO
The South American Tapir (Tapirus terrestris) is one of four species in the Tapir family, along with the mountain, the Malayan, and the Baird's Tapirs. It is the second-largest land mammal in South America, after the Baird's Tapir. Females go through a gestation period of roughly 13 months and in most all cases, have one offspring every two years.
Since 1970, the South American Tapir has been classified as Endangered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, though it has a significantly lower risk of extinction than the other three Tapir species. Their numbers are dwindling due to poaching for their hide and meat, as well as the destruction of their natural habitat by man.