In the Malay language, the word Umi means life, and the new baby tapir at the Denver Zoo is sure full of life! Born on May 6th, 2017, Denver Zoo’s latest addition, Umi the baby tapir, is now on display for the public!
Malayan Tapirs are endangered pachyderms that live primarily in South-East Asia. Even though they can be up to 8 ft long and weigh up to 1,000 lbs, they are masters of camouflage. In fact, zookeeper Kelsey Barker described Umi’s colorful skin pattern as a “brown watermelon”.
Barker is a zookeeper at the Denver Zoo that works with tapirs like Umi and her mother, Rinny.
“What makes tapirs interesting to work with is the fact that there’s something new happening everyday,” she said. “They are really fun to work with.”
Zookeepers at the Denver Zoo take great care of the tapirs. They took steps to have their habitat at the zoo resemble their habitat in the wild very closely, including such features as a large pool to swim in, plenty of shade, and soft sand to rest on. Also, their diet is kept very similar to that in the wild. These herbivores eat plenty of fruit, bamboo, hay, and a special tapir cereal that the zoo gives them.
Tapirs are truly unique animals in appearance and personality. Their large stature and fascinating camouflage make them difficult to see in the wild, so having the opportunity to see them at all is a real treat. Also, Malayan tapirs would be difficult to see in the wild because they are now endangered mostly because of habitat loss. The Denver Zoo is helping save these creatures by spreading awareness to their cause, because they are not very well known.
If you would like to help save tapirs, something very easy you can do everyday is to not buy products that contain palm oil, as the tapirs’ habitats are being destroyed in order to harvest palm oil.
The tapirs are in trouble and together we can help them stay here for many years to come. Come see Umi at the Denver Zoo, during the couple hours she is on display in the morning, and help tapirs make a comeback in the wild.