We currently have two adult Malayan tapirs. The male, Mogli, was born in 2009 and came to us from Dortmund Zoo in May 2012. Our female tapir came to us from London Zoo. Her name is Sayang, which means “love” in Malaysian. She was born in October 2003.
Sayang has given birth to four calves with our previous male, Ka. She had two boys, Vasan and Kamal, and two girls called Indah and Nadira. With our current male Mogli, Sayang has given birth to two male calves, Mekong and Baku and one female calf, Maya. All of them have since gone on to other collections to play an important part in the breeding programme.
Our tapirs can be found next door to our rhinos.
The tapirs are managed by the European Endangered Species programme.
The Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus), also known as the Asian tapir, is the largest of the four tapir species. It is found in the rainforests of Burma, Malaysia, Sumatra and Thailand.
The tapir is related to both the horse and the rhinoceros. It is an “odd-toed” ungulate (meaning a hoofed mammal), having four toes on each front foot and three toes on each back foot. Each toe ends in a hoof.
The Malayan tapir has distinctive markings, with a black head and legs and a whitish “saddle” of hair that extends from their front shoulders to its rump. Its ears are also tipped with white. Adult Malayan tapirs generally weigh between 250 – 320 kg (550 – 704 lb), although they can grow larger, and measure 1.8 – 2.4 m (6 – 8 feet) in length. Female tapirs are typically larger than males. Females breed every other year and, after a gestation period of 13 months give birth to a single calf. This calf will remain with its mother for six to eight months and when born in a reddish-brown colour with white stripes and spots for camouflage. They get their adult colouring at approximately 4 -7 months.
Tapirs are mainly browsers, feeding on leaves and shoots and aquatic vegetation. They also occasionally graze on crops. Similar to our Indian rhinos they have a prehensile upper lip to help grasp the vegetation.
Malayan tapirs are threatened throughout their range. The Malayan tapir population has been severely fragmented and is in serious decline, mainly due to large-scale deforestation, growing farming operations and uncontrolled illegal logging; however, they are also threatened by increasing pressure from hunting