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The birth of a Malay tapir at Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom has become an event. This mammal is the only tapir that does not live in the Americas and is in danger of extinction. The young arrived in the world last Thursday, July 18, with only 5 kilos, after a 13 month pregnancy.
Sarah Roffe, director of the center, said: “It is wonderful to hear the tapping of the tiny and stained feet of Malay tapir for the second time in the long history of the zoo. His mother Margery, seven, is very good with the baby. She is very attentive, but also gives her the opportunity to explore and follow in her footsteps and those of her six-year-old father, Betong.” Those responsible for the zoo have decided to celebrate this birth by inviting the public to baptize the small Malay tapir through a survey on the zoo’s Facebook account.
The tapirs have a very characteristic fur at birth, formed by a series of spots and stripes to help camouflage themselves on the forest floor in their native Southeast Asia. This pattern will change slowly during the first six months until you get the unique black and white pattern of your parents.
Around half of the world’s Malaysian tapirs have been lost in the last 40 years, and it is estimated that less than 2,500 remain in Malaysia, Sumatra, Thailand and Myanmar. Hunting, illegal logging and mass deforestation for palm oil production are clear causes.
Conservationists have applauded this latest birth at the zoo, as the Malaysian tapir is on the Red List of Endangered Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The survival of this animal depends on the preservation of its habitats, as well as the protected areas destined to the care of the endemic flora and fauna. Its greatest threat is human action, both for the destruction of its habitat and for poaching, which seeks to sell tapir pups in the black market, of great value in the world of smuggling.