Tapir Specialist Group Logo The IUCN/SSC-affiliated Tapir Specialist Group is a global group of biologists, zoo professionals, researchers and advocates dedicated to conserving tapirs and their habitat through strategic action-planning in countries where tapirs live, information sharing, and through educational outreach that shows the importance of the tapir to local ecosystems and to the world at large.

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  Tapir Birth at Paradise Wildlife Park, Hertfordshire UK

Paradise keeper Yianna with tapir calfParadise Wildlife Park is extremely proud to announce the birth of a healthy female Brazilian Tapir (Tapirus terrestris) calf: Tuesday 30th January 2007 at approximately 8pm.

This delightfully cute new addition to Paradise Wildlife Park is extra special because she is the first healthyBaby tapir and her mother offspring for our Tapirs, Gaby & Temuko, who are both 7 years old and have previously suffered 3 unsuccessful pregnancies. This was mainly due, we believe, to stress, as Tapirs are extremely sensitive to changes in their environment so this time around we were watching events very carefully. Tapirs (Tapirus terrestris) are listed on the definitive IUCN Red List of endangered species as Vulnerable’. This is mainly due to loss of natural habitat and illegal hunting.

As part of the parks European Endangered species (EEP) Breeding Programme this birth helps secure the future of these vulnerable animals.

Paradise Zoo baby tapirTapirs are pregnant for an amazing 390 - 400 days and usually stay with the same partner for life, which in captivity can span a lifetime of 25 years. As nocturnal mammals, they are known to hide their young in the undergrowth away from predators during the day returning in the evening to feed them. This caused keeper Yianna Christopoulos to have concerns about whether Gaby was feeding her newborn calf so a camera was placed in the stable to keep an eye on things. It turned out that Yianna's fears were unfounded when she was lucky enough to witness the calf being fed on the third day. Yianna has a close bond with Gaby and can often be found 'calf-sitting' while Mum goes for a dip in the pool. Tapirs are most closely related to the Horse and Rhinoceros families as odd-toed ungulates and live by pools spending much of their time in the water. This can sometimes get them out of trouble; as the natural prey of Jaguars, they can submerge themselves under water using their long snout as a snorkel until danger passes.

The calf was born with the distinctive brown colouring with white stripes and spots, which all tapir species calves are born with, this helps to camouflage them in the wild; these markings gradually disappear at between 6 to 12 months.

Lynn Whitnall (Director of the Animal Park) has said “The success of this pregnancy and the healthy birth is due entirely to the hard work and 24 hour commitment of Yianna who has proved exceptional in her dedication to the animals in her care. We are very lucky to have such a dedicated Animal Park Team, who all supported her throughout the very demanding first few days.”

Thanks to Yianna Christopoulos who submitted this content.
Photos of tapirs only © Carol Wiseman, 2007

Photo of keeper Yianna with tapir calf © Mike Poultney, 2007