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Video: Endangered baby tapir plays with his father

  • Baby Baku was born on 19 May at the RZSS Edinburgh Zoo.
  • A video shows Baku trying to play with his father, Mowgli.
  • Baku’s juvenile spots and stripes have recently started to fade and his coat will soon turn into a solid color of black and white or grey.

Baby Baku, an endangered Malayan tapir, born at the RZSS Edinburgh Zoo on 19 May, is doing well, according to a video released by the zoo.

In the video, the two-month old baby Baku runs around his father, Mowgli, who seems to be in no mood to play. Baku, however, is unfazed by his father’s lack of interest and continues to nudge and prance around him.

“Baku has already grown so much and he has stolen our hearts with his charming nature,” Karen Stiven, Hoofstock Team Leader at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said in a statement. “The footage of him trying to coax his dad into playtime is pretty typical of his personality. He is normally very busy exploring his large outdoor enclosure and is always running around and having fun.”

Adult Malayan (or Asian) tapirs have solid coats of black and white or grey. But babies are typically have brown hair with white stripes and spots.

Baku’s distinctive spots and stripes have recently started to fade slightly, Stiven said, and “by the time he is six months old he will look more like the adult tapirs – with a stocky black body and a white or grey midsection.”


The endangered Malayan tapir is the largest of the four tapir species, and occurs in southern and central parts of Sumatra (Indonesia), Peninsular Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar.

In the past 36 years, the species’ numbers have declined by more than 50 percent, mainly due to the large scale conversion of tapir habitat to palm oil plantations and hunting. Moreover, Malayan tapir populations are estimated to continue to decline by at least 20 percent in the next two generations (24 years), according to the IUCN.

Fewer than 2,500 mature individuals remain in the wild, occurring mostly in small, isolated populations in existing protected areas and forest fragments. Such discontinuous populations increase the risk of inbreeding among the tapir populations.

Baby Baku at the RZSS Edinburgh Zoo. Photo credit RZSS/Katie Paton.
Adult Malayan tapirs have solid coats of black and white/grey. Photo by KaurJmeb, from Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0.

(Video courtesy of RZSS Edinburgh Zoo)