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Tapir calf born at Bristol Zoo Gardens - 18/02/11

There is a new addition to Bristol Zoo’s Brazilian tapir family. A tiny baby calf has joined parents Tamang and Denzil and big sister Tip Tap.

Baby tapir The three week old Brazilian tapir calf has been sexed as male and is the seventh born to the Zoo’s current adult tapirs.

The calf currently has a distinct spotted and striped coat of light brown fur that is similar in all young tapir species and provides ideal camouflage in their native forest habitat.  Baby tapir lying on straw next to Mum and sister

However, this colouration will slowly disappear between six and nine months of age to be replaced with an overall colouring of dark, chocolate brown. 

Emily Pugh, senior mammal keeper at Bristol Zoo Gardens, said: “The calf is strong and full of life and can be seen exploring his enclosure with his mother.”

Emily added: “He is very inquisitive, always learning and discovering, but likes to stay close to mum, Tamang.”

Currently the size of a small dog, the little calf will grow up to be the size of a Shetland pony, reaching his full adult size and weight of anything between 150-300 kg (330-660lbs) by the age of fourteen months.

The birth of the calf is a significant contribution to the conservation of Brazilian tapirs, which are currently listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List of threatened species.

Threatened with extinction from extensive hunting and deforestation, the breeding programme in which Bristol Zoo Gardens is involved helps raise awareness of the threats facing tapirs in the wild. 

The matriarch of the family, Tamang, is available to adopt through our new virtual adoption scheme. Go to for full details.


Tapir facts

  • The tapir’s closest relatives are horses and rhinos.
  • They inhabit jungle and forest lands in Central and South America as well as in South East Asia.
  • A female tapir breeds once a year, the gestation period being 12 to 13 months.
  • At birth, the calf has a beautiful patterned coat with spots and stripes for camouflage which begins to fade at six to eight months old.
  • The young tapir is able to breed at about two years and can live for 30 years in captivity.
  • All tapir species are threatened with extinction in the wild due to extensive hunting and loss of habitat through deforestation.
  • One of their main features is a short proboscis, an extension of the nose and upper lip, like an elephant’s trunk which has nostrils at the tip. It is used to pull and hold the branches of trees while the tapir is feeding.
  • Tapirs have weak eyesight and rely largely on hearing and smell.
  • They love bananas and also eat other fruit and plants.
  • They make squeaking and chirping noises.
  • They swim very well and love water.
  • They have not changed much in 20 million years.
  • A tapir has four toes on each front foot and three on each back foot.
  • They bulldoze tunnels in jungle undergrowth.
  • Tapirs are often hunted by humans.
  • Tapirs may be solitary or live in small family groups.
  • Baby tapirs stay with their mothers for about two years.
  • Tapirs have very tough skin, like hard leather.



For press enquiries please contact Bristol Zoo’s press office:

Lucy Parkinson, T: 0117 974 7306 or E:

Vanessa Hollier, T: 0117 974 7309 or E:


Notes to the Editor:

Bristol Zoo Gardens

  • Bristol Zoo is open from 9am every day except Christmas Day. 
  • Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on income from visitors and supporters to continue its important work. 
  • In 2011 Bristol Zoo celebrates its 175th anniversary and wants to do more than celebrate.
  • Over that past 175 years, the Zoo has brought six generations of Bristolians closer to wildlife, helped save over 175 species from extinction, established over 30 field conservation and research programmes all over the world, showed 40 millionschool-aged children the wonder of nature and given more than 90 million visitors a wonderful day out.
  • Throughout 2011 we’re bring people, businesses, charities and wildlife together to share amazing experiences that raise awareness and funds to save threatened wildlife and places. To find out more, visit
  • Bristol Zoo has supported and been actively in gorilla conservation in Cameroon since 1998.
  • Throughout 2011 we will be focusing our efforts on raising funds and awareness in support of gorilla conservation.
  • Throughout 2011 Bristol Zoo will support theEuropean Association of Zoos and Aquaria Ape Campaign.The campaign aims to make a significant and lasting contribution to the continued survival of apes and their habitats, and is being led by Dr Bryan Carroll, the Director of Bristol Zoo.
  • To find out more about the EAZA Ape Campaign visit the Zoo website at
  • Bristol Zoo is involved with more than 100 co-ordinated breeding programmes for threatened wildlife species. 
  • Itemploys over 150 full and part-time staff to care for the animals and run a successful visitor attraction to support its conservation and education work. 
  • Bristol Zoo supports – through finance and skill sharing - 15 projects in the UK and abroad that conserveand protectsome of the world’s most endangered species.
  • In 2010 Bristol Zoo Gardens set up a Conservation Fund to raise vital funds to help care for threatened animals and plants – both in the Zoo and through the conservation work we do in the UK and around the world.
  • Bristol Zoo Gardens is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums. BIAZA represents more than 90 member collections and promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums.