TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 5, 2018) – Christmas may come early at ZooTampa at Lowry Park, where there is a new bundle of joy on the way. Ubi, an endangered Malayan tapir, is pregnant and expected to deliver her third calf in December. Her pregnancy is critical for conservation because a healthy population in human care helps create a safety net for a species facing extinction.
While tapirs (pronounced TEY-per) are usually solitary by nature, the animal care team at the Zoo has developed a strong bond with Ubi, ensuring she is comfortable as she receives prenatal care from the medical team. Luckily for her, this means she receives belly scratches from her keepers while the medical care team conducts ultrasounds regularly.
“It is important that Ubi be as comfortable as possible as we check on both her and her calf’s health,” said Chris Massaro, General Curator at ZooTampa. “The strong bonds that the animal care team has with the animals enable higher quality of care for each animal.”
The Malayan tapir, though sometimes mistaken for a relative of a pig or anteater, is a close relative of the rhinoceros and horse. A Tapir calf will have a very distinctive coat pattern when first born, made up of a series of spots and stripes to help camouflage the baby. This coat pattern will slowly change over six months to the unique black and white pattern of the parents. Known as “living fossils,” this unique, endangered species is the most primitive large mammal in the world, dating back to 20 million years ago. Due to hunting and habitat loss, the species continues to decline.
As Ubi explores her habitat with her mate, Albert, guests can see she’s carrying additional pregnancy weight. Once the new baby is born, it will be introduced to the tapir habitat. Ubi arrived at ZooTampa in 2008 and Albert arrived in 2013 –they are part of the Zoo’s effort to conserve the Malayan tapir through the Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
About ZooTampa at Lowry Park
ZooTampa at Lowry Park is operated by the Lowry Park Zoological Society, an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to excellence in conservation, education, recreation and research. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is featured among the “Top 25 Zoos in the U.S” by TripAdvisor (2015). The Zoo is located at 1101 W. Sligh Avenue in Tampa, and is open seven days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended hours for select events. Parking is free. For more, visit www.ZooTampa.org or call (813) 935-8552. Also, find the Zoo on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.