Nashville Zoo Welcomes Baird's Tapir
Nashville Zoo is happy to announce the Jan. 12th birth of a male Baird’s tapir. This is the second birth for mom Houston and her mate Romeo, who came to Nashville Zoo from Central America in 2008 to introduce a new genetic line into the United States tapir population.
“This birth is significant because it helps sustain a genetically diverse population of tapirs in the United States,” said Lanny Brown, hoofstock supervisor at Nashville Zoo. “Tapirs have a gestation period of more than 13 months, so we have been looking forward to this baby for a long time.”
The baby is doing well thanks to lifesaving efforts from the Zoo’s animal care staff. After delivery, the baby’s embryonic sac did not break, so he could not breathe and began to rapidly lose vitality. Zoo staff made the decision to intervene and moved Houston out of the stall. They then freed the baby from the sac, verified he still had a heart rate, and immediately cleared his airways and performed mouth-to-nose resuscitation until he was fully breathing on his own.
“It was very tense for the first few minutes, but because of our preparation and training, we were able to intervene and rescue the baby,” said Brown. “Mother and calf are now bonding and doing great. The baby loves being scratched and discovering how fast he can run around the barn. They will remain off exhibit until the weather warms up around March.”
Tapirs are broad, primitive creatures whose appearance has changed little in thousands of years. A relative of the horse and the rhino, tapirs are the largest land animal in Central and South America. Though an adult Baird’s tapir’s coat is solid brown, baby tapirs are born with unique markings similar to a brown and white-striped watermelon. Juvenile tapirs lose these marking after one year.
Nashville Zoo is accredited by the prestigious Association of Zoos and Aquariums, assuring the highest standards of animal care and husbandry. Attracting more than 787,000 visitors annually, the Zoo is considered one of the top things to do in Nashville. The Zoo is a non-profit organization located at 3777 Nolensville Pike and is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The mission of Nashville Zoo is to inspire a culture of understanding and discovery of our natural world through conservation, innovation and leadership. For more information about Nashville Zoo, call 615-833-1534 or visit www.nashvillezoo.org.
Photographs by Amiee Stubbs