Tapir Family

Known as “living fossils”, tapirs are the most primitive large mammal in the world, dating back to 20 million years ago! Although sometimes confused for an anteater or pig, tapirs are actually related to rhinoceros and horses.

Four months ago, we welcomed the Zoo’s 12th Malayan tapir, Tiga. When a tapir calf is first born, they will have a distinctive coat pattern made up of a series of spots and stripes similar to a watermelon that helps camouflage the baby.  This coat pattern will slowly change over 6 months to the black and white pattern of the parents.

A calf is born with their eyes open, can stand one or two hours after birth, and can begin to swim at a very young age! Naturally the mother is very protective of their new calf. The animal care team developed a strong bond with mom, Ubi, which is why she trusts the team to be around Tiga.

Tapirs are also solitary by nature, which is why you will find dad, Albert by himself out on the habitat. Ubi and Tiga will stay together for a few years until Tiga is ready to move on to another zoo as part of the Species Survival Plan.

Sadly, Tapirs are considered endangered due to hunting and habitat loss. There are less than 50 Malayan tapirs in human care in North America, which is why Tiga’s birth was critical to securing a safety net for this species.

A Family Plus annual Zoo membership makes it easy for your family to visit our Malayan tapir family in the Asia realm of the Zoo! You can learn more about memberships here.

You can even symbolically adopt Tiga and join us on our mission to protect wildlife, here.