New Year’s Day was extra special at Franklin Park Zoo… a Baird’s Tapir, named Abby, gave birth to a female calf.
The calf was born on January 1 to 28-year-old dad, Milton, and 13-year-old mom, Abby. This is the fourth offspring for both parents.
The soon-to-be-named calf recently had her first vet examination. The exam included blood work and a general physical. The calf weighed-in at 20.5 pounds and appears to be in good health.
“Abby is an experienced mother, and she is being very attentive to her new baby, who is strong and has been nursing well. As with any new birth, we are carefully monitoring the health of the new calf and the mother,” said Dr. Alex Becket, Zoo New England Associate Veterinarian in the department of Animal Health.
The baby’s arrival was long awaited by the Animal Care staff, as the gestation period for Baird’s Tapirs is thirteen months. Similar to a deer fawn, Baird’s Tapir calves are distinctly marked with watermelon like white stripes and spots, which help to camouflage them in the dappled light of the rainforest. The stripes begin to fade between five and six months of age.
“We are thrilled to share this wonderful news,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “Given the small size of the North American captive population, this is a very important birth for this endangered species. Zoo New England is committed to Tapir conservation and has supported important field work being done on behalf of Baird’s Tapirs in Nicaragua.”
ZNE participates in the Baird’s Tapir Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs help to ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, most of which are threatened or endangered, and enhance conservation of these species in the wild. Because the AZA managed Tapir population is so small – 29 males and 20 females (including the new calf) – every successful birth and survival helps to secure the captive population. The new female calf at Franklin Park Zoo helps to balance out this small, but male skewed population.
Baird's Tapir (Tapirus bairdii), also known as the Central American Tapir, is a species of native to Mexico, Central America and northwestern South America.
They are the largest land mammal found in South America and are classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN Red List. While they are hunted for food and sport, their greatest threat to survival is habitat destruction due to logging and clearing of land for agriculture and development. In addition to humans, jaguars are the only other significant threat to this animals’ survival in the wild.
The Baird’s Tapirs, at Franklin Park Zoo, make their home in the ‘Tropical Forest’ exhibit. The new baby is expected to make her public debut within a few weeks.