Night Safari welcomes first male Malayan tapir born there in close to a decade

SINGAPORE – The Night Safari has welcomed the latest addition to its Malayan tapir family – the first male calf in close to a decade.

The birth of Bintang, or Star in Malay, was captured in a video posted on Facebook by Wildlife Reserves Singapore last week.

He is also the 32nd Malayan tapir calf to be born in the Night Safari, and is the first male to be born there since 2011. The last birth of a Malayan tapir was just over a year ago.

His birth on June 28 is the latest success in breeding the endangered species at the Night Safari.

In the two-minute video, Sakti, 11, is seen giving birth to Bintang, which weighed in at 10kg.

At the start of the clip, she had already been in labour for around 30 minutes, said Ms Lee Tzu Ying, a junior zookeeper at the Night Safari. The mother tapir is seen lying at one corner of the den before she gets up and moves to a different spot for the birth.

Sakti then leaves Bintang for a while, before going back to lick him.

The typical gestation period for tapirs is 13 months. Adult tapirs typically weigh between 250kg and 320kg.

Like all Malayan tapir calves at birth, Bintang sports a distinctive black coat with white spots and stripes – leading them to be often referred to in jest as black-and-white watermelons.

Bintang still feeds on his mother’s milk and has just started to explore solid foods consisting of vegetables, hay, pellets and leaves. PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

The tapirs’ patterned coats enable them to blend in well with the dappled forest floor in their native habitat in South-east Asia.

Over the first six months, the pattern gradually transforms to the unique black-and-white marking on adult tapirs, which have a primarily black body with a patch of white extending from the shoulders to the rear end.

Bintang still feeds on his mother’s milk and has just started to explore solid foods consisting of vegetables, hay, pellets and leaves.

Ms Lee said: “Bintang took about three weeks to get used to water and learn how to swim, and he is an active calf that likes to run around while the keepers shower him.”

Tapirs are water-loving creatures and adept swimmers that often seek refuge in the nearest body of water when pursued by predators.

As Malayan tapirs are an endangered species facing threats of habitat loss and poaching, they are part of regional conservation breeding programmes to ensure the sustainability of their species.

The Wildlife Reserves Singapore said its breeding success has helped to ensure genetic diversity and a sustainable population of the Malayan tapir species under human care.

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