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Rare South American Tapir baby is newest addition to Wildlife World Zoo

(Wildlife World Zoo photo)

PHOENIX — The Wildlife World Zoo has a new resident to look after with the birth of a rare South American Tapir.

The newborn calf is receiving around-the-clock care by veterinary staff at the Litchfield Park zoo’s baby animal nursery.

Tapirs are the largest surviving native terrestrial mammal in the Amazon and have been designated as vulnerable to extinction due to habitat destruction as well as being hunted for their meat and hides.

Baby tapirs are born covered in black, yellow and white stripes and spots, serving as camouflage against predators during their vulnerable first few months, according to the zoo’s website.

The stripes and spots disappear as the tapirs get older.

Though the species looks like a pig with a long snout, tapirs are relatives of horses and rhinoceroses.

The animals are often referred to as “Gardeners of the Forest” because they consume a variety of plant matter, then disperse the seeds through their scat. This helps promote forest health as well as spreading seeds on slow-growing trees, the zoo said.

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