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Baird’s Tapir Born on New Year’s Day at Franklin Park Zoo

New Year’s Day was extra special at Franklin Park Zoo as Abby, a Baird’s tapir, gave birth to a female calf.

The calf was born at 3:06 p.m. on January 1 to Milton, a 28-year-old male, and Abby, a 13-year-old female. This is the fourth offspring for Milton and Abby. The calf, not yet named, had her first examination yesterday. The exam included blood work and a general physical. The calf weighs 20.5 pounds and appears to be in good health.

“Abby is an experienced mother, and she is being very attentive to her new baby, who is strong and has been nursing well. As with any new birth, we are carefully monitoring the health of the new calf and the mother,” said Dr. Alex Becket, Zoo New England Associate Veterinarian in the department of Animal Health.

The baby’s arrival was long-awaited by the Animal Care staff as the gestation period for Baird’s tapirs is 13 months. Similar to a deer fawn, Baird’s tapir calves are distinctly marked with watermelon like white stripes and spots, which help to camouflage them in the dappled light of the rainforest. The stripes begin to fade between five and six months of age.

“We are thrilled to share this wonderful news,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “Given the small size of the North American captive population, this is a very important birth for this endangered species. Zoo New England is committed to tapir conservation and has supported important field work being done on behalf of Baird’s tapirs in Nicaragua.”

ZNE participates in the Baird’s Tapir Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs help to ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, most of which are threatened or endangered, and enhance conservation of these species in the wild. Because the AZA managed population is so small – 29 males and 20 females (including the new calf) – every successful birth and survival helps to secure the captive population. The new female calf at Franklin Park Zoo helps to balance out this small, but male skewed population.

Baird’s tapirs – the largest land mammal found in South America – are considered endangered in the wild. While they are hunted for food and sport, their greatest threat to survival is habitat destruction due to logging and clearing of land for agriculture and development. In addition to humans, jaguars are the only other significant threat to this animals’ survival in the wild.

The Baird’s tapirs at Franklin Park Zoo make their home in the Tropical Forest. The baby is expected to make its exhibit debut within a few weeks.

Please note: Photo opportunities will be available once the baby makes its exhibit debut.