Cotswold Wildlife Park, in the UK, is celebrating their first Brazilian Tapir birth since 2006! The calf has been named ‘Lolita’ and was born to first-time parents, ‘Gomez’ and ‘Cali’.
Visitors can see the new calf exploring the enclosure she shares with her parents, alongside the world’s largest rodent species, the Capybara. Both species are native to South America, but Tapirs can also be found in Central America and Malaysia.
Baby Tapirs are striking in appearance and visually differ greatly from the adults. For the first few weeks of their lives, the mother will make sure the vulnerable calf is hidden in thick foliage in the forest while she leaves to browse for food. The young Tapirs coats are covered with stripes and spots, which mimic the speckled sunlight on the forest floor. This enables the calf to brilliantly camouflage itself, in the wild, against predators. When Lolita was first born, visitors were unaware that a newborn Tapir was just feet away from them until keepers pointed the baby out.
Cotswold Wildlife Park has a successful history breeding Tapirs, as part of an Endangered Species Breeding Programme. Tapirs have a gestation period of approximately 13 months, and now that the baby has arrived, the young breeding pair, Gomez and Cali, are proving to be excellent parents. Lolita is growing up to be a confident, independent youngster, as well as a welcome addition to the Mammals section.
Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Jamie Craig, said, “We have done incredibly well with this species in the past, but we are delighted to have a first calf from our new pair. The initial introduction between the adults did not go exactly to plan, and it was a relief to us all when they finally settled together.”
These unusual creatures have changed little over tens of millions of years. Fossils of Tapir ancestors have been found on every continent except Antarctica. Tapirs are Brazil’s largest mammal and are related to horses and rhinoceroses. Brazilian Tapirs live in wet forests and grasslands in South America where population numbers are declining due to habitat loss and hunting. They are classified as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
Tapirs are a key species in shaping the biological diversity of tropical forests. A recent study of lowland Tapirs revealed 122 different seed species in their dung, making them masters at dispersing seeds and vital components in their ecosystem.
More amazing pics, below the fold!