April 16, 2007 9:04 AM
The great thing about spring is that there are tons of baby tapirs on the loose! Probably not on the loose, actually - just at zoos. The one below is Vasan, who was born at the Edinburgh Zoo last month.
Vasan is the son of a tapir named Sayang, a three-year-old female Malayan tapir whose progress I’ve been following since she was a newborn. A few weeks ago, when I was home in Northampton for the weekend, my dad came upstairs and said, “Hey, there’s a picture of a baby tapir in the newspaper!” I looked at it, and lo and behold, it was Sayang and her calf! It was very exciting.
There’s also a new baby Malayan tapir in Amsterdam, a baby Brazilian tapir named Belita in the Cotswolds in England, and right here in Boston, there’s a baby Baird’s tapir at the Franklin Park Zoo! I tried to visit him last week, but he was sleeping the whole time, and all I could see was his butt. I did have fun watching his mom, Abby, though, and I’ll go back and try to see him again soon.
Baby tapirs are a huge deal, because the animals in general are all endangered or threatened. The gestation period for tapirs is 13 months, so births are rare. It’s great that all these babies are being born in the spring, because babies are susceptible to colic (not the kind that human beings get, but a more dangerous kind that ungulates, including horses, can get), and if they’re born in the spring, when the weather is getting warm and they don’t need to be cooped up in barns, they’re more likely to stay healthy.
So, be on the lookout for little spotty-and-stripey baby tapirs at zoos near you!