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Meet Marjorie, the Malayan tapir calf

Date: 20 Mar 2012

Malayan tapir calf

Our recent baby boom has continued with the birth of Marjorie, the Malayan tapir. Marjorie was born on Saturday 4 March to mother, Gladys and father, Elmer.

Gladys came to Belfast Zoo from Toronto Zoo, in 1994 and was soon joined by Elmer, who moved from Mulhouse Zoo in France, in 1995. The French language definitely seems to have proven itself as the ‘language of love’ with Elmer and Gladys as they are one of the most successful breeding pairs of Malayan tapir in Europe and have welcomed eleven babies since their arrival in Belfast!

Zoo curator, Andrew Hope said, “Malayan tapirs are a beautiful but slightly unusual looking species! They are related to horses and rhinoceroses. The adults have a distinctive coat pattern and are black on the front and white on the back. However, when the calves are born they have beige spotted and striped markings, which make them look incredibly like ‘watermelons on legs’. Marjorie will begin to lose her markings after a few months and when she is six months old, she will look like a miniature adult!”

Malayan tapirs are the only tapir from Asia and are found in Indonesia, Burma (Myanmar), Malaysia and Thailand. This incredible species faces a high risk of extinction, with studies estimating that the population could decline by up to 50% over the next 30 years. The main reasons for their decline are the destruction of their forest habitats and they are also hunted for meat and sport.

Zoo manager, Mark Challis, is delighted with the recent arrival, “This is a wonderful achievement for the whole Belfast Zoo team and for the Malayan tapir breeding programme! They are such an endangered animal and every birth is vital to sustaining a captive population. As one of the most successful breeding pairs in Europe, Gladys and Elmer certainly demonstrate the collaborative efforts between zoos, as their offspring have moved to zoos throughout the world, including London Zoo, Amsterdam Zoo, Beauval Zoo (in France), Denver Zoo and Nuremberg Zoo (in Germany)!”