PUTRAJAYA: Three months after their arrival at a Japanese zoo, Malayan Tapirs Bertam and Im have produced an offspring.
Bertam, which is three years old, gave birth to a male on March 14 at the Nagasaki Bio Park.
The news was announced by the zoo on its official Twitter account, @ngsbiopark, on March 23.
The baby has been named Persa by the park, which is derived from the Malay word persahabatan which means friendship.
“It is the hope of the park and Malaysia that the baby will be nurtured and raised well,” read the tweet.
Both mother and baby are healthy and it is believed that Bertam was pregnant before she arrived in Japan.
Photographs showed a black baby tapir with white stripes and spots – as opposed to the solid black and white typical of an adult tapir.
“The black and white stripes will be gone about six months after birth,” said one tweet.
The striped pattern is very precious because it can only be seen once in the baby’s lifetime and for a period of less than six months, another tweet said.
The baby tapir, which was 11kg at birth, grew to 18kg a week later.
The park also posted short video clips of the baby moving about.
Im and Bertam will be at the world-class park for 10 years, under a conservation programme by Malaysia and Japan.
Besides being a zoo attraction, the tapirs are studied for conservation and captive breeding.
The pair were from the Sungai Dusun Wildlife Conservation Centre and were flown to Japan on Dec 4 last year.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said that any of their offspring would belong to Malaysia and would be returned home at the programme’s end.
Tapirs are considered special animals in Japan. They are known in Japanese mythology as Baku, a supernatural creature that can devour people’s nightmares.
The Malayan Tapir is a “totally protected species” under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 and its population is estimated to be from 1,100 to 1,500 in peninsular Malaysia.