It Takes Two Tapirs to Tango

Reintroducing our Two Baird’s Tapirs

Contessa and Tupi, Reid Park Zoo’s two Baird’s tapirs, were recently reintroduced to each other on habitat at the Zoo. As a mostly solitary species, tapirs usually live alone. Contessa (Tessa for short) and Tupi usually do not share the same space at the Zoo, and have their own separate habitats. However, one of the occasions in which tapirs do come together is for breeding purposes, and Tessa and Tupi have been reintroduced with hopes that they will have a calf.

Tessa and one of her previous calves enjoying produce in 2017.

Reid Park Zoo participates in the Baird’s tapir Species Survival Plan: this means that tapirs at the Zoo are managed at a national and sometimes international scale for sustaining tapir population numbers and maximizing tapir genetic diversity. Baird’s tapirs are an endangered species, so every breeding opportunity counts. The genetic health and diversity of the parents is also highly important. Due to their age, health, and genetics, Tupi and Tessa have a breeding recommendation from the Species Survival Plan, and Reid Park Zoo hopes that they will successfully breed again.

The reintroduction between the pair went well, and they have now had several rendezvous. They have been observed successfully copulating, but it will be a while before animal care staff might be able to determine if Tessa is pregnant. Baird’s tapirs’ gestation is approximately 13 months, so if the breeding was successful a calf could be expected in the spring of 2021.