Brazilian tapir calf born at Linton Zoo
PUBLISHED: 13:07 20 April 2015 | UPDATED: 13:07 20 April 2015
It may look like a cross between a pig and an elephant, but this prehistoric-looking creature is in fact a rare breed of Brazilian calf.
This as-yet-unnamed male Tapir male calf was born on Saturday, April 11, at Linton Zoo, the son of Thiago and Tiana, who are part of a European Breeding Programme aimed at saving them from extinction.
The recent birth - the 14th at the zoo - signals a second generation of this family in Linton, after mum Tiana was born here in 2010. Dad Thiago was born at Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire.
The Brazilian tapir is a large heavily built mammal of a strange prehistoric appearance. The tapir is in fact so well adapted to its environment that it has remained unchanged for about 30 million years. It lives deep in the Brazilian rainforest where, because of the destruction of its habitat and illegal hunting it is has already become extinct in part of its range.
The tapir is a shy creature taking to water when threatened where it is able to stay submerged for hours using its long nose to snorkel until such time it feels it is safe to surface. They feed on roots and vegetation but never strip a bush bare of its leaves, zigzagging their way through the undergrowth, conserving the habitat.
The colouring is a dark reddish brown but the offspring is covered in a beautiful pattern of white spots and stripes which it will retain until about six months of age; this would provide a very efficient camouflage in the dappled shade of the forest.
The creature is one of the keepers’ favourites too, and are said to be docile and affectionate.