The Minnesota Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of an endangered Malayan Tapir calf. The little female, named Indah, was born on January 6 after an approximately 400-day gestation period and weighed-in at 16 pounds.
According to keepers, the new calf and mom, Bertie, are doing well. This is the Minnesota Zoo’s third tapir birth in 6 years. The new calf is also one of only 37 tapirs that are currently housed in zoos across North American.
The little one is bonding with mom behind the scenes. Until she goes into the public tapir habitat along the zoo’s 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, and 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,” said Tropics Trail curator, Tom Ness.
Malayan Tapirs (Tapirus indicus) are one of the most endangered animals in Southeast Asia. Their population is declining due to road mortality, habitat loss from deforestation for agricultural purposes (palm oil), flooding caused by dam building for hydroelectric projects, and illegal trade. The public 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 one for the Malayan Tapir.