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Prague Zoo’s New Tapir Calf Was a Long Time Coming


Prague Zoo is very excited to announce the birth of a new star in their tapir nursery. A Malayan Tapir was born October 15th to mom, Indah, and father, Niko.

The birth of the new calf is also being celebrated as a big success for the zoo’s keepers. It is the first Malayan Tapir to be born in Prague after nearly 40 years. Prague Zoo and the Zoo Zlín are the only facilities in the Czech Republic where the Malayan Tapirs are kept.


3_PrahaTapirPhoto Credits: Petr Hamerník / Prague Zoo

Visitors to the Prague Zoo can now see the small baby tapir on exhibit. In the past twelve months, there have been just six Malayan Tapirs born in Europe. The Prague Zoo has been keeping Malayan Tapirs since 1967.

Mom, Indah, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on September 26, 2008. As a near two-year-old calf, she came to Prague from the Rare Species Conservation Centre in Sandwich, Kent, chaperoned by her older brother Vasan. It took no time for them to settle into their new home, within the Water World exhibit.

This new baby tapir is Indah’s first offspring, and she is proving herself to be a very good mother. In the coming weeks, keepers will be able to determine the sex, and then a proper name can be selected for the new baby.

The Malayan Tapir (Tapirus indicus), also known as the Asian Tapir, is the largest of the five species of tapir and the only one native to Asia. The scientific name refers to the East Indies, the species’ natural habitat. In the Malay language, the tapir is commonly referred to as cipan, tenuk or badak tampung.

Malayan Tapirs are primarily solitary creatures, marking out large tracts of land as their territory, though these areas usually overlap with those of other individuals. Exclusively herbivorous, the animal forages for the tender shoots and leaves of more than 115 species of plants, moving slowly through the forest. When threatened of frightened, the tapir can run quickly, and despite its bulk, it can also defend itself with strong jaws and sharp teeth. They are mainly active at night, but are not exclusively nocturnal.

The gestation period of the Malayan Tapir is about 390-395 days, after which a single offspring is usually born, weighing about 15 lbs. (6.8 kg). All species of tapir are born with brown hair and white stripes and spots, a pattern that enables them to hide effectively in the dappled light of the forest. The baby camouflage fades into adult coloring at about four to seven months of age. Calves are weaned between six and eight months of age.

The Malayan Tapir is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. The main threats to their existence, perpetrated by human activity, include deforestation for agricultural purposes, flooding caused by the damming of rivers, and illegal trade.