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Reid Park Zoo’s first baby of the year is a very special little one:  a Baird’s Tapir that was rejected by his mother and is now under the care of zoo keepers.

Photo Credit:  Reid Park Zoo 

After a 13-month gestation, female Tapir Contessa delivered the male calf on January 4.  While both mom and calf are healthy, Contessa did not nurse her calf and became aggressive toward him, prompting keepers to remove the baby for hand-rearing.

Zoo officials stress that hand-rearing baby animals is very rare at the zoo, but this calf’s importance to captive breeding efforts made him an exception.  

The Reid Park Zoo participates in the Baird’s Tapir Species Survival Plan®, a managed breeding program designed to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically stable group of animals.

Baird’s Tapirs are nocturnal creatures native to Mexico and Central America. Their flexible snouts are used to grab vegetation.  Baird’s Tapirs are endangered, due primarily to deforestation and illegal hunting.