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Baby Joy For Antwerp Zoo’s Endangered Animal Breeding Program

Antwerp Zoo announced on its website the birth of a Malaysian tapir. The pig-like animal, which is actually more closely related to rhinos and horses than pigs, is endangered in the wild and its birth, last Saturday morning, was a coup for the zoo’s captive breeding program . All animals born this year at the zoo will be given names beginning with the letter “I,” so the baby – a young female – has been named “Indira,” which means “beautiful” in Sanskrit. Her mother, “Signora”, is one of the zoo’s females and her father is “Nico”: a nine-year-old male from Rotterdam Zoo. 14-year-old Signora has previously given birth to a daughter, Ganesha, and a son, James.

Unlike adults, which are a plain brown color with a light saddle, baby tapirs are dark brown with white stripes and spots, which help them camouflage from predators such as tigers in their native jungle habitat. The creatures, which live in Sumatra, Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar, have a snout, like a shortened version of an elephant’s trunk, which they use to reach and pull plants into their mouths. In the wild, they spend a lot of time in the water, feeding on soft plants, cooling off and avoiding predators. Indira, who weighed about 5kg at birth (adults can weigh up to 300kg), spent much of the first week sleeping indoors with her mother.

Tapirs take 3 to 5 years to reach adulthood and live between 25 and 30 years. there are believed to be only 1,500 to 2,000 in the wild. In an email interview, a spokeswoman said Antwerp Zoo participates in a large number of international breeding programs to help endangered animals, but is particularly focused on 8 species, including the bonobo chimpanzee, the golden-headed lion tamarin and the okapi: a relative of the giraffe.

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