7 Aug 2014
Little humbug! Three-day-old tapir Zathras makes his public debut at Chester Zoo

The tiny calf was born on Monday at 11am to mum Jenny after a gestation period of around 13 months. The new youngster – the first male to be born at the zoo for eight years – has already been given the name Zathras. 

Curator of mammals, Tim Rowlands, said:

Our new calf, Zathras, was up and about really quickly and he and mum are doing fine. Jenny is an experienced mum and she’s doing a top job.

At the moment Zathras looks a bit like a little humbug. His brown coat currently features lots of white stripes and spots which will eventually disappear as he gets to around six-to-nine months old. The markings act as camouflage in the wild – mimicking speckled sunlight on the forest floor. He won’t be little for long though as new youngsters tend to double their weight in the first 14-21 days alone.

At Chester Zoo we’ve enjoyed good breeding successes with tapirs in the past – including Zathras’s 22-year-old dad Cuzco who was also born here.

In the wild Brazilian, or lowland, tapirs live in wet forests and grasslands in South America where they are threatened because of habitat destruction and hunting. They are classed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

We’re a keen supporter of a conservation initiative which has been finding out valuable information about behaviour patterns and movements of tapirs in several key areas of Brazil.

It is hoped this research will help safeguard the future of the fascinating species which is increasingly hunted for its meat and for its hide, which is used to make sandals.

Tapir facts 

  • New baby Zathras was born at 11am on 04/08/2014 
  • Mum is called Jenny who was born on 24/07/1992. She is 22 years old 
  • Dad is called Cuzco who was born on 03/10/1991. He is also 22 years old
  • Lowland tapirs live in several different South American Countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Paraguay, Venezuela and Bolivia
  • Young are weaned at around four months old but they will double their weight in the first 14-21 days 
  • Adult tapirs are around two metres in length and stand about three foot high
  • They live on a diet of fruits, berries and leaves
  • Their closest relatives are horses and rhinoceroses
  • They are excellent swimmers