Watermelon afloat

Now that she’s completed her series of swimming lessons, the zoo’s first baby tapir in 20 years — born about a month ago and described whimsically by the zoo as a fuzzy watermelon with legs — has landed on exhibit with her mom and the big pool. Before that, the zoo volunteer lounge kept her visible on webcam, and here she is trying out the baby pool back in her holding area (with her mom Bertie’s feet in the background).

baby tapir in pooltapir feetBefore we could see the baby on exhibit (which happened a couple of weeks ago, so yes, I’m playing catch-up here), her feet served as a screensaver in a computer in our lounge. An adult tapir’s weight may range from 500 to 900 pounds, but newborns weigh 11 to 20 pounds, so those feet are not as big as they look! Tapirs have four toes on their front feet but only three per foot in back. By the time our new girl is six or eight months old, those spots will fade and she’ll have the two-toned black-and-white appearance of an adult.

blurry baby tapir walkingAnd here she is on exhibit in one of my “impressionist” photos, as I call the blurry ones where the animal and I are both in motion. It was her first morning on public view, and quite a crowd had gathered, so we volunteers caught sight of her in quick bursts while trying not to block visitors’ view. She’s a perpetual motion machine with a funny, bouncy way of walking — almost like a horse (her distant relative) trotting. We all look forward to watching her grow up.

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