The yet-to-be-named female was born at approximately 5:45 am on Saturday, January 6 after an approximately 400 day gestation period; both the calf and mom “Bertie” are doing well. This is the Minnesota Zoo’s third tapir birth in 6 years.
The new calf is one of 37 tapirs currently in North American zoos. Born at 16 pounds, she is busy bonding with mom behind the scenes. Until she goes into the public tapir habitat along the Tropics Trail, she can be seen via the Minnesota Zoo’s social media channels and a special webcam.
The Malayan tapir's gestation period varies from 390-419 days. Mothers usually give birth every 2-4 years to a single calf (twins are rare). At birth, a calf weighs approximately 10-20 pounds. For the first 6-8 months of their life, tapir calves resemble furry watermelons with legs. They are dark brown to black with alternating bands of yellowish-white stripes and spots. Young tapirs grow quickly and can weigh as much as 450 pounds at one year of age; they reach adult size in 2-3 years.
“We are very excited to welcome this new tapir to the Minnesota Zoo. Malayan tapirs are endangered and this birth is a significant conservation achievement, as it’s estimated that fewer than 1,500 exist in the wild. The recent success we’ve had with tapir births over the past six years is an example of the incredible care our zookeeper and veterinary teams provides our animals,” says Tropics Trail curator, Tom Ness.
Malayan tapirs are one of the most endangered animals in Southeast Asia; there are less tapirs than tigers in the wild. Their population is declining due to road mortality, habitat loss from deforestation for agricultural purposes, flooding caused by dam building for hydroelectric projects, and illegal trade. People can help wild tapirs by shopping smart for sustainable palm oil.
In human care, Malayan tapirs are managed for breeding purposes by a Species Survival Plan® (SSP), which, through the coordinated efforts of several zoos throughout North America, helps maintain a backup gene pool for the future aid of the wild population. The Minnesota Zoo currently participates in many SSP programs, including the Malayan tapir.
The Minnesota Zoo is a year-round destination located in Apple Valley, just minutes south of Mall of America. The Zoo’s mission is to connect people, animals and the natural world to save wildlife. For more information, call 952.431.9500 or visit mnzoo.org. The Minnesota Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and an institutional member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).