Nashville Zoo is happy to announce the August 28 birth of a male Baird’s tapir. This is the first birth for mom Juliet and her mate Romeo, who came to Nashville Zoo from Central America in 2008 to introduce a new genetic line into the United States tapir population.
The animal care team had been closely observing the first time mom for several weeks as she prepared to welcome her first baby. New camera systems were installed in the tapir birthing stall so vet staff and keepers could monitor Juliet’s progress as her due date got closer. “These cameras can be accessed from cell phones at any time,” said Eric Reinsch, hoofstock supervisor. “Keepers were assigned camera checks during overnight hours so we would know as soon as labor started. There was round-the-clock monitoring to ensure a safe and smooth delivery.”
Juliet went into labor at 4 pm on the afternoon of August 28 and welcomed a male tapir 20 minutes later. Mom and baby are doing very well and will make their public debut on September 14.
Tapirs are broad, primitive creatures whose appearance has changed little in thousands of years. A relative of the horse and the rhino, tapirs are the largest land animal in Central and South America. Though an adult Baird’s tapir’s coat is solid brown, baby tapirs are born with unique markings similar to a brown and white-striped watermelons. Juvenile tapirs lose these markings after one year.