The soon-to-be-named female was born on Saturday, January 6 and is making her official public debut on February 6. Zoo guests will be able to see the calf daily, starting at 9:00 am for short periods of time as she adjusts to her new space.
To help celebrate this milestone, the Minnesota Zoo will be launching a public naming contest for the new female calf. The general public will be able to submit their name suggestions on mnzoo.org, now through February 11. Zookeepers will select the top three names and the public will have the chance to vote for their favorite, February 13 through February 15. The tapir calf’s official name will be announced on February 16, prior to the Zoo’s annual Tropical Beach Party.
“We are very excited to finally introduce the public to our newest tapir calf,” says Tropics Trail curator, Tom Ness. “It has been fun to watch her and mom bond behind the scenes this past month. She definitely has her own personality and it will be interesting to see all of the name suggestions from our guests.”
The new calf is one of 37 tapirs currently in North American zoos. Born at 16 pounds, she has been rapidly growing behind the scenes with mom and currently weighs approximately 44 pounds. Because she will only be viewable in the public tapir habitat for limited periods of time, 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.
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).