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Updated: 08/15/2013 11:40 AM
Created: 08/15/2013 11:12 AM | Print |  Email
By: Maricella Miranda

Malayan Tapir Calf Debuts at MN Zoo in Apple Valley

Malayan tapir on exhibit at the Minnesota Zoo.

Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Zoo.

The Minnesota Zoo on Thursday debuted its new Malayan tapir calf - the first born at the zoo in 20 years.

The female tapir was born around 9:15 p.m. July 20 after a 419-day gestation period, according to zoo officials in Apple Valley. The calf - which resembles a furry watermelon with black and white stripes and spots - has grown to more than 37 pounds.

The newborn was born to the female tapir Bertie.

Currently, the calf swims in a pool twice a day. Water is a big part of a tapir's life because they need to learn how to swim early, according to zoo officials.

The tapir calf joined the Tropics Trail on Thursday, Aug. 15.

The Malayan tapir is one of the most endangered animals in Southeast Asia. The population is declining because of habitat loss from deforestation for agricultural purposes, flooding caused by dam building for hydroelectric projects and illegal trade, zoo officials said.

Mothers give birth to a single calf.

At birth, a calf weighs approximately 10 to 20 pounds. A female normally births a calf every two to four years. Young tapirs grow quickly and can weigh as much as 450 pounds at one year of age. They can reach an adult size in about two to three years.

"This birth is a great way to celebrate National Zookeeper Week and the dedication the staff have for these animals," said Tom Ness, Tropics Trail supervisor, in a statement. "Malayan tapirs are an endangered species and every birth is important to the population."

In human care, the Malayan tapir is managed for breeding purposes by a Species Survival Plan, a coordinated effort involving several zoos throughout the country.

The Minnesota Zoo currently participates in 60 Species Survival Plan programs, including the Malayan tapir one. The Zoo has had four Malayan tapir births, the last was in 1991.



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