Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of a male Baird’s tapir calf on Wednesday, March 7. Juju, the mother, gave birth at 12:53 a.m.
This is the second calf for four-year-old Juju and weighs about 22.8 lbs. The father Romeo passed away last year. Romeo was also the father of Tybalt, our male tapir, who was born in August 2016. With the addition of this calf, the Zoo is now home to three Baird’s tapirs. Four Baird’s tapirs have been born at Nashville Zoo since the species was introduced in 2008.
Tapirs have a gestation period of approximately 13 months. Keepers have been closely monitoring Juju’s progress and noticed she was restless the day before she gave birth. Once Juju went into labor, she welcomed her new calf, without the help of keepers, about five minutes later.
“Congratulations to the keepers who worked tirelessly to ensure a smooth birth for Juju,” said Jonathon Hankins, Area Supervisor for Hoofstock. “They know these animals down to the tiniest details and it is this dedication that will help us make the future for this little guy as bright as possible.”
Keepers estimate the calf will go out on exhibit within a few weeks, once the mother deems the calf is fit to explore outside. Tapirs are also sensitive to colder temperatures, so they will not go outside unless the temperature is above 60 degrees.
This birth is significant to the species because this species of tapir is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. Tapirs are endangered due to hunting, population fragmentation and habitat destruction.
Baird's tapirs, Tapirus bairdii, 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.