A Tapir is Born!

Posted at 8:22 am December 1, 2005 by Bridget Mulholland

 Tapir calf Keepers are pleased to welcome a new member to Tiger River! A Malayan tapir was born Sunday night (Nov. 27), and he appears to be healthy and doing well. The dam, Rose, is an experienced mother, and has been caring for her youngster off exhibit wonderfully for the past few days.

We had been anxiously awaiting the calf’s arrival, after a long 13-month gestation. Several times during her pregnancy, Rose allowed us to perform an ultrasound on her growing abdomen. We were able to see the difference in the sizes of the spinal column and beating heart as the fetus grew larger as the months passed.

Now that he is finally with us, it is amazing to watch how quickly he is growing and learning the ropes. Today for the first time, the unnamed male calf followed his mom as she shifted into another bedroom for breakfast. The two days prior, the keepers had to go in with him to help him shift. While we were in with him we weighed him- just over 18 pounds (8 kilograms) on his first day! He’ll grow very quickly, I’m sure, and soon enough he’ll be as big as his mom- 800 pounds (363 kilograms)!

Because of the chilly mornings and the steep ramp that needs to be navigated to get into the exhibit from the bedrooms, we will be keeping our young tapir behind the scenes for about a week. By then we’re hoping that he’ll be big enough and coordinated enough to be put on exhibit. I’ll let you know when he’s ready!

Bridget Mulholland is a senior mammal keeper at the San Diego Zoo’s Tiger River.

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13 Responses to “A Tapir is Born!”

  1. Kenna says:

    This is wonderful news! I can’t wait to see him! Thank you so much for the update…all the updates. I really appreciate being able to keep up with all that is going on at my favorite place in the world. You guys are awesome!

  2. Deborah says:

    What a cutie!! He looks like a little striped piglet, especially next to his mom. I just have one question…for only being about 18lbs. at birth, why is the gestation 13 months? and when do his stripes begin to fade? Thanks, I just love you keepers for taking the time to inform us of the new births at the zoo, especially for us that live so far away and can’t visit. You ALL do such wonderful work.

  3. Pamela G says:

    Thanks for the picture of Rose and her little ” Bud” . I had no idea Tapir babies were so cute and had such neat markings!

  4. Judy J says:

    Congratulations! He looks so tiny and so precious. Thank you for the wonderful picture and taking the time to share such a special gift with us–we learn so much every day about the miraculous and important happenings at the Zoo and WAP from all of you. May he grow strong and beautiful. Thank you, Rose, for being such a good mom. Thank you, keepers, for making all of this possible. Luv to All, Judy J

  5. CALVIN DOWLING says:

    I HOPE THEY WILL MAKE A CAM AT EVERY EXHIBIT

  6. Michelle says:

    I hope I’m not the only one who had to look up ” tapir” in the dictionary! 🙂 That baby is adorable!

  7. Stacy says:

    LOL, Michelle #6, I was just going to sheepishly admit I had to google this animal. Very cool that we can learn about different animals like the Tapir that we would never run across without access to the zoo. Congrats on the new ” little” baby!

  8. Robert says:

    How rare are these things? I know they live in S. America, but are they confined to Brazil? Or are they everywhere in the jungle?

  9. Andrey says:

    Hi! Tapir baby looks cute and would love to see WebCam of it, I’m born in UK living in Auckland NZ with disability in life and LOVE Tapirs and read about them and look at their photos too. they have only two in Hamilton Zoo in Hamilton which I have seen.

  10. Pamela G says:

    Robert (#8), I googled Tapirs and discovered that Rose is a Malayan tapir (Didn’t even know they existed!). You can tell by her markings, as these tapirs are nocturnal and the white saddle makes them harder to see in a moonlit jungle. They are solitary, and no one knows how many are left in the wild, but it is suspected that they are endangered. They are fairly rare, even in zoos, so this birth is really a cause for celebration.

  11. Sharon says:

    Congratulations! I know you’re proud of the little one.

  12. sarah cooper says:

    Hello. Does anyone know if the little baby tapir has a name yet? He looks lovely.

  13. Bessie says:

    Hi! I live in Belize Central America as a missionary and here the tapir is one of the national symbols. I think the baby is so cute. I have seen them here in the zoo and one of them has a baby but I noticed that the ones here and the ones in your picture have different colors. How many kinds of tapirs are there?

    Editor’s note: There are four species of tapirs: Malayan (like Chukai), Baird’s, mountain, and Brazilian.