For only the second time in 22 years, the Minnesota Zoo has successfully bred an endangered Malayan tapir.
The zoo unveiled the striped-and-spotted calf this week, although the 25-pound male will stay out of public view while he bonds with his mom, Bertie.
“Malayan tapirs are endangered, and this birth is a significant conservation achievement,” said Tom Ness, Tropics Trail supervisor, in a statement from the zoo. “It’s estimated that fewer than 1,500 exist in the world.”
Born after a 13-month gestation period, a Malayan tapir (pronounced “TAY-purr”) will grow quickly and can weigh as much as 450 pounds as a 1-year-old. The animals are endangered in their home region of Southeast Asia because of habitat loss from deforestation for agriculture, flooding caused by hydroelectric projects and illegal trade, according to the zoo.
The survival of endangered Malayan tapirs is managed by a Species Survival Plan, which coordinates breeding among zoos throughout the United States. The Minnesota Zoo’s new calf is the 37th tapir in North America.
A YouTube video posted by the Apple Valley zoo shows the wobbly-legged creature chewing hay and alfalfa. People can also get a peek at the tapir calf and mom via a zoo webcam at mnzoo.org/webcams/tapirCam.html.
His public debut could come in two to four weeks, zoo spokeswoman Kelly Lessard said.