On January 31, a female South American Tapir calf was born at Poland’s Wrocław Zoo. The baby, named Sarah, will be part of zoo breeding programs designed to save this Vulnerable species.
Sarah weighed about 13 pounds and had a body length of about 18 inches at birth. Her brown fur is covered in white stripes and blotches. In the South American forests where wild Tapirs live, these spots would offer camouflage in the sun-dappled woodlands.
Sarah’s mother, 23-year-old Sonia, was also born at the Wrocław Zoo. Her father is 22-year-old Tapinos.
Though Tapirs usually live alone in the wild, the three Tapirs at Wrocław Zoo have formed a family group, with both adults caring for the calf. Sarah spends most of her time nursing or sleeping. While exploring or running, Sarah is still uncoordinated and might take a tumble. When this happens, Sonia is always at her baby’s side and checks to see if she is alright. If a stranger approaches, Sonia shields her baby with her body.
Sarah will eventually leave Wrocław Zoo for another facility, where she will be paired with a genetically-compatible mate. The goal of zoo breeding programs is to develop sustainable populations with high genetic diversity.
South American Tapirs are one of five species of Tapirs living today. The others are the Mountain Tapir, Malayan Tapir, Baird’s Tapir, and Kabomani Tapir. They have short prehensile snouts, which aid in grabbing tender foliage to eat.
Poaching and habitat loss have caused Tapir numbers to decrease dramatically in recent years.
See more photos of Sarah below.