Keepers at Chester Zoo have announced the arrival of a rare Brazilian Tapir.
The female calf, which has not yet been named, was born early in the morning of December 5 to experienced parents Jenny and Cuzco.
Weighing just a few kilograms at birth, she is expected to more than double in size within just two to three weeks.
Young Tapirs are born with spots and stripes all over their bodies, heads, and legs. But they lose these patterns in the first year of their life.
Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals, said, “With her brown coat currently covered in white stripes and spots, our new Tapir calf resembles a little humbug on legs at the moment. Lowland Tapirs lose this patterning over time but, for a newborn, it’s a great form of camouflage, as predators will often mistake young calves for specks of sunlight on the forest floor.
“At just a few days old she is tiny, but Tapirs grow very quickly and we expect she will double in weight in just a matter of weeks. She already has bundles of energy and is quite demanding on mum in particular, but Jenny is very experienced and knows exactly what to do.
“We hope that our new arrival will be another great ambassador for the species and their cousins in the wild who, sadly, fall victim to a number of devastating threats that has resulted in a huge loss of wildlife across South America.”
The Brazilian, or Lowland Tapir, (Tapirus terrestris) is one of five species in the tapir family. The Lowland Tapir is the largest native terrestrial mammal in the Amazon. They can be found near water in the Amazon Rainforest and River Basin in South America, east of the Andes.
Lowland Tapirs are excellent swimmers but also move quickly over land. They feed on a diet of fruits, berries, and leaves. Their closest relatives are horses and rhinoceroses.
They reach sexual maturity in their third year. Females have a gestation period of 13 months (390 to 395 days) and typically have one offspring every two years. Newborns weigh about 15 pounds and will double their weight in the first 14 to 21 days. The young are fully weaned in about four to six months from birth.
Brazilian Tapirs are listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. They are either completely absent or severely depleted from much of their historic range in South America, with more than a 30% decline in the wild population over the last 30 years. Their main threats stem from habitat loss and huge hunting demands for its meat and its hide, which is used to make leather products.
Chester Zoo supports conservation projects in Brazil that are researching the different behavior patterns and movements of Tapirs in the wild and hope to play a major role in safeguarding the species for future generations.