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Minnesota Zoo Welcomes First Baby Tapir Born in Twenty Years

Tapir HERO

The Minnesota Zoo announced the birth of this Malayan Tapir calf, the first born at the Zoo in more than 20 years. The newborn, a female, came into the world at approximately 9:15 p.m. on July 20, after a 419-day gestation period. Mom, Bertie, and her calf are doing well and are currently off-exhibit together, giving them time to bond. But you can watch them on the zoo's Tapir Cam.

The Malayan Tapir is one of the most endangered animals in Southeast Asia. Tapir populations are declining due to habitat loss from deforestation for agricultural purposes, flooding caused by dam building for hydroelectric projects, and illegal trade.

Tapir w: mom size

Tapir smile

Tapir tootsies
Photo Credit: Minnesota Zoo

Watch the baby and mom in action:

Read more after the fold.

Tapir profile

Tapir back

Tapir dozejpg

The Malayan Tapir's gestation period varies from 390-410 days. Mothers give birth to a single calf (twins are rare). At birth, a calf weighs approximately 10-20 pounds (4.5-9.0 kg). A female normally births a calf every 2-4 years. For the first 6-8 months of their lives, Tapir calves resemble furry watermelons with legs. They are dark brown to black in color, with alternating bands of yellowish-white stripes and spots. Young Tapirs grow quickly and can weigh as much as 450 pounds (204 kg) at one year of age and reach adult size in about 2-3 years.

“This birth is a great way to celebrate National Zookeeper Week and the dedication the staff have for these animals,” says Tom Ness, Tropics Trail supervisor. “Malayan Tapirs are an Endangered species and every birth is important to the population.”

In human care, the Malayan Tapir is managed for breeding purposes by a Species Survival Plan® (SSP), which, through the coordinated efforts of several zoos throughout the United States, helps maintain the captive gene pool for the future aid of the wild population. The Minnesota Zoo currently participates in 60 SSP programs, including the Malayan Tapir SSP. The Zoo had 4 prior Malayan Tapir births, the last one occurring in 1991.