Marjorie, a 10-month-old Malayan tapir, has moved from Belfast Zoo as staff at Chester prepare for one of the largest zoo developments in Europe – designed to transform a currently disused area into the exotic climes of the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Bali, Sumatra, Sumba and Sulawesi.
Chester Zoo’s Curator of Mammals Tim Rowlands said:
“Bringing a new species in to a zoo involves an incredible amount of forward planning and isn’t something that can just be done off the cuff.
“So even though Islands isn’t due to open until 2015, we’ve had to really look ahead and think very carefully about the indigenous species of these amazing islands.
“Marjorie is the first of her kind to reside in Chester since the mid-1980s and we’re absolutely thrilled to welcome such a fantastic animal in. Hopefully we’ll eventually pair her up with a male and play a key role in the international breeding programme for the species.”
Malayan tapirs, whose bodies are described as pig like, are native to Asia.
Mr Rowlands added:
“They are a beautiful but rather unusual looking species, which are related to horses and rhinoceroses.
“Sadly they are listed as endangered species, partly because their distinct black and white coats make them a target to hunters.”
The species faces a high risk of extinction, with conservationists estimating that populations have declined by more than 50% in the last 30 years. This is mainly due to the destruction to their natural forest habitat as well as hunting for their meat and sport.
Visitors will soon be able to see Marjorie in the zoo’s cattle house.
• Linked by a series of bridges and including a journey on water, Islands will be home to animals and plants from southeast Asia, including new species such as banteng and the Sunda Gavial crocodile
• Other animal species will include Sumatran tigers, orangutans, Sulawesi macaques and exotic birds such as the lorikeet
• Islands will include a new Indonesian jungle house which will be the largest indoor zoo exhibit in the UK
• The £30m venture will showcase the zoo’s Act for Wildlife conservation activities as visitors navigate their way through mangroves, swamps, bamboo and tropical forests
• Work is expected to start in early 2013 with the entire zone planned to open to the public by Easter 2015
Malayan tapir facts
• Malayan tapirs, related to rhinos and horses, are native to the forests of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma and Sumatra where they feed on shoots and leaves, but the species is endangered due to habitat loss and hunters who prize them for their meat
• They have unusual, long flexible noses that they use to forage for food, and are known for their unusual courtship ritual which involves an assortment of wheezing and whistling sounds. They will then sniff each other, walking around in circles before mating
• After a gestation period of 13 months the female gives birth to one calf
• They have poor eyesight, which makes them rely heavily on their excellent senses of smell and hearing
• Marjorie was born on March 4 2012