Edinburgh Zoo welcomes baby Tapir

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A Malayan tapir born on New Year’s Eve has been settling into life at a zoo.

The male calf was born to mother Sayang and first time father Mogli in the evening of December 31, the last birth of the year at Edinburgh Zoo.

A male Malayan tapir was born to mother Sayang and first time father Mogli in the early hours of 31 December. Pic: submitted

A male Malayan tapir was born to mother Sayang and first time father Mogli in the early hours of 31 December. Pic: submitted

He has been named Mekong, after the delta river which flows through where the animals are found in the wild, and he is said to be “lively and very distinctive”.

The young animal is on show to visitors at the zoo’s Malayan tapir enclosure.

Lorna Hughes, hoofstock team leader, said: “Sayang is a great mum with lots of experience as she has had five babies now and really knows the ropes.

“Tapirs are pregnant for around 13 months so it is great to finally see another healthy calf being born. However, although we are very pleased with his progress and he is putting on weight steadily, the first week or so is a sensitive time for mother and baby.”

She added: “Although they are not genetically related and are much larger, Malayan tapirs are similar in build to pigs, but have noses and upper lips that form a long prehensile snout and large, barrel shaped bodies made for crashing through dense forest vegetation.

“Adult tapirs are black, with a white or grey midsection, whilst youngsters like Mekong are born with spots and stripes all over their small bodies, face and legs. Mekong’s adult colouration will come in between four and seven months of age. When Mekong is fully grown he is likely to stand at over 3ft tall and be up to 8ft in length, weighing up to 900 pounds.”

The species is the only tapir native to Asia and in the wild is under threat from natural predators, as well as hunting and wide-scale deforestation due to farming and logging.

The animals are listed as endangered on the International Union for Conversation of Nature Red List, which means they face a very high risk of extinction in the wild, where it is estimated less than 2,000 exist.