Baby on board: Minnesota Zoo’s Malayan tapir is expecting


One of the world’s most unique animals will soon become a mother for the third time: Bertie is a 14-year-old female Malayan tapir (this is pronounced tay-purr for those unfamiliar), and the Minnesota Zoo couldn’t be happier about the news.

Tropics and Minnesota Trail assistant curator Laurie Trechsel had this to say about Bertie’s latest: “We are all looking forward to welcoming this new calf… Bertie has been a great mom to her other calves and we thought this year’s Give to the Max Day was the perfect time to share our happy news with everyone.”

(If you want to be on baby-tapir watch you are in luck: Updates on Bertie and her expected calf will be provided via the zoo’s social media channels and their website.

Tapirs are incredibly at-risk as an endangered species in their native Southeast Asian habitat. A main cause for their decline is the encroachment of humans, and the clear-cutting of forests in order to create agricultural palm oil plantations. Palm oils are widely used in food products, cosmetics, and bath products. If you are interested in helping, just make sure that products containing palm oil are using a sustainable palm oil. Pick up a shopping guide and learn more by visiting the zoo’s Act for Wildlife page.

A baby tapir

A female Malayan tapir is pregnant from about 390 to 410 days (over 13 months). Typically, only one Tapir is born at a time and twins are extremely rare. The calf, when born, will weigh from 10 to 20 pounds and resemble a furry watermelon with legs (see picture of aforementioned furry watermelon to the left). They are rather pretty with alternating bands of yellowish white stripes and spots. The little guy or gal will grow rapidly in the first year, and can reach up to 450 pounds in weight. They aren’t done growing after that, however, as a tapir will take about 2 to 3 years to reach adulthood. Once fully grown, a tapir can weigh as much as 800 pounds.


  • These 800 lb. mammals are nearly invisible in the wild; tapirs are nocturnal, and in a moonlit rain forest the contrasting colors break up its body outline in the dense vegetation and shadows.
  • The tapir’s excellent sense of smell makes up for its poor eyesight. And although this creature is not closely related to an elephant, it uses a long snout very similar to a trunk.
  • In the wild, tapirs have been observed walking under water, consuming aquatic plants like a hippopotamus, and using their snout like a snorkel.
  • Malayan tapirs are easily identified by their markings. Except for the white tips on their ears, the hair on their front and rear is black, with a light colored “saddle” across their middle.