‘Precious’ endangered baby tapir born at Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo has welcomed an endangered baby Malayan tapir, the second infant of the species ever to be born at the zoo.

The new calf was born on July 18 to parents Margery, aged seven, and Betong, aged six.

The baby tapir has been revealed as a boy, with keepers at the zoo asking visitors to choose between the name Rony or Thom for the youngster through a poll on Facebook.

Team manager Sarah Roffe said: “It’s wonderful to hear the pitter-patter of tiny, spotty Malayan tapir feet again for only the second time ever in the zoo’s long history.

“The precious calf is another big boost for the international breeding programme, which is working to ensure the already endangered species do not become extinct.

“In the wild, the Malayan tapir population has crashed in recent times, largely due to the wide-spread conversion of their forest habitat to palm oil plantations.”

Baby tapir born at Chester Zoo
Baby tapir born at Chester Zoo

Baby tapirs have distinctive coats when first born, made up of a series of spots and stripes to help camouflage them on the forest floors in their native south-east Asia.

This pattern will slowly change over the first six months to the pattern of their parents.

Around half of the global population of Malayan tapirs has been lost in the last 40 years, with fewer than 2,500 individuals estimated to remain across Malaysia, Sumatra, Thailand and Burma.