Update 9 October 2021:
Today the little tapir is exactly one week old! By now she also has a name: Krissy. A nice reference to keeper Krista, who you may know from the series ‘Real Life in the Zoo’. The baby is brown with white stripes. After about three months the stripes and spots of her fur start to fade and within six months they have almost completely disappeared. When do you come and admire Krissy?
On Saturday evening 2 October, a Malayan tapir was born in Blijdorp Zoo, after a gestation period of over 400 days. The delivery went well. The calf was quickly on its feet and drinking well. Pooh is an experienced mother and it shows. She is very calm. This is her third calf. It turns out to be a female and the keepers are thinking of a nice name for her.
If all goes well, visitors will be able to visit mother and her cubs tomorrow. Father Tygo plays no role in the upbringing, as tapirs live solitary lives. Keep an eye on the Blijdorp website and social media for further developments. A young tapir is brown with white stripes. After about three months the stripes and spots of its fur start to fade and within six months they have almost completely disappeared. By then the youngster will have the same black and white coat as its parents. They reach adulthood at around three years of age.
In the Netherlands, the Malayan tapir can only be seen in Blijdorp Zoo. In Europe there are 24 European zoos, affiliated with the EAZA (European Zoological Society), where the Malayan tapir can be found.
In the TV series ‘The real life in the zoo’, which was shown every Saturday this summer on NPO1, the tapir couple Pooh and Tygo played a leading role. The still young tapir man met a fertile female for the first time and was not yet very adept at the game of love. After some practice, the penny dropped and a successful mating took place. This youngster is the result.
Highly endangered species
The baby is very welcome because tapirs are very threatened in their existence, mainly due to the disappearance of the forest and to a lesser extent due to hunting for tapir meat. In the wild, Malayan tapirs live in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Sumatra. They are mainly active at night, wandering alone through the forest in search of tasty leaves and fallen fruit. The number of Malayan tapirs in Sumatra is estimated to be 2000 at the most. That still seems to be a lot, but the biotope needed for the animals is so fragmented that the tapirs are having increasing difficulty in finding a partner. The future for these tapirs does not look very bright.
The Malayan tapir is the largest of the four tapir species, weighing 280 to 400 kg. A very distinctive feature of this species is its white ‘blanket’. The other three tapir species are clearly smaller and live in the Americas: the Baird’s tapir in Central America, the woolly or mountain tapir in the Andes and the lowland tapir in Brazil. The latter is most often seen in zoos, while the mountain tapir is no longer represented in any European zoo.