Not to be outdone by the newly expanded royal family, the Minnesota Zoo has announced the long-awaited arrival of a tapir calf, a critically endangered and large tropical mammal.
This is the zoo’s first birth of a Malayan tapir in more than 20 years. The calf arrived Saturday after a 419-day gestation period. That’s a 14-month pregnancy — longer than usual, even by tapir standards. Typically, gestation runs from 390 to 410 days.
The calf will remain off-exhibit while it gets acquainted with mom, but it can be seen via webcam at www.startribune.com/a2374.
The birth brings the zoo’s tapir population to three — mother, father and calf.
For the first six to eight months, tapir calves resemble furry watermelons with legs. While starting out anywhere from 10 to 20 pounds, tapirs can reach 450 pounds by their first birthday.
The Malayan tapir is one of the most endangered animals in Southeast Asia. Their populations are declining due to habitat loss from deforestation for agricultural purposes, flooding caused by dam building for hydroelectric projects, and illegal trade.
“Malayan tapirs are an endangered species, and every birth is important to the population,” said Tom Ness, the Tropics Trail supervisor at the zoo in Apple Valley.
This is the zoo’s fifth tapir birth, with the most recent previous arrival occurring in 1991.