A Malayan tapir was born over the weekend at Zoo Antwerp, entering the world trunk first after a smooth delivery from mother Nakal.
Malayan tapirs are endangered, so the birth comes as exciting news for the ZOO’s conservation programme.
“On the cameras you can see that he flopped out in ten minutes and mother Nakal licked him dry like an experienced mother,” said caretaker Sarah.
“We saw the baby drink well and noticed that it is a male. You can’t miss it! We are very proud and very happy.”
This is the fourth tapir baby for Nakal, and her first son. He is the second offspring from father Baku.
The baby was born on Saturday 4 December and caretakers have chosen two options for names for him: Wayan (which means “first son”) or Willy (“with a will so strong”). People can vote for their favourite on the ZOO’s Instagram page.
The baby Tapir with his brown skin and white markings designed to help him camouflage with the shadows cast on the ground under bushes in the rainforest doesn’t resemble his parents.
After three to six months, the baby’s skin changes colour to match that of his parents.
The Malayan tapir is the largest tapir species and has Asian roots, according to ZOO Antwerp, which explained in a press release that the animals communicate to each other with whistles.
“Tapirs take care of the greenery in the rainforest in their own way. When they eat fruit, they do not digest all the seeds equally well,” the ZOO said.
“These half-digested seeds will naturally come out again and germinate in the right place to form a new plant. The animals are often found bathing in ponds or taking refuge in them when in danger.”