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County Executive's Office

Rare Malayan Tapir is Born at Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo

November 20, 2003
Sharyn Wisniewski (608) 267-8823 Jim Hubing (608) 266-4708
County Executive

The Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of a rare, female Malayan Tapir. Born November 11, the calf weighs about 30 pounds and resembles a watermelon with four legs. Its unique blackish brown coat has white and cream colored spots and stripes, which help hide newborns in bamboo and reed jungles. “The birth of a Malayan tapir is an important conservation event,” said Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. “We’re proud to play a significant role in the survival of this species, and it gives our residents one more reason to visit our great zoo. My thanks go to the zoo staff for a job well done.” Malayan tapirs, native to Sumatra, the Malayan Peninsula and Thailand, are endangered because of hunting and loss of habitat. There are 55 in North American zoos. Births are infrequent, with only four this year. An estimated 1,000 to 3,000 remain in the wild. Tapirs have changed little in appearance in the past 15 million years. They resemble a huge pig with a long snout. Their closest related species are horses and rhinoceros. Adult tapirs range in size from 750 to 900 pounds. “The calf is nursing well,” said Zoo Director Jim Hubing. “While it will not be on exhibit until spring time, our staff is installing a video monitor in the rhinoceros viewing area, and pictures of the calf will also be updated on the Zoo’s web site.” # # #