NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Nashville Zoo has announced the birth of a male Baird's tapir.
The baby was born to mom Houston and her mate Romeo on January 12. Zoo officials said the baby is doing well due to lifesaving efforts from the Zoo's animal care staff.
After delivery, the embryonic sac did not break, so he could not breathe. Zoo staff decided to intervene and moved Houston out of the stall in order to free the baby from the sac. After verifying he had a heart rate, they cleared his airways and performed mouth-to-nose resuscitation until he was fully breathing on his own.
"It was very tense for the first few minutes, but because of our preparation and training, we were able to intervene and rescue the baby," said Brown.
Houston and the baby are now bonding, and will remain off exhibit until the weather warms up around March.
It was Houston's second birth. Romeo came to the Nashville Zoo from Central America in 2008 to introduce a new genetic line into the United States tapir population.
"This birth is significant because it helps sustain a genetically diverse population of tapirs in the United States," said Lanny Brown, hoofstock supervisor at Nashville Zoo. "Tapirs have a gestation period of more than 13 months, so we have been looking forward to this baby for a long time."
Tapirs are broad, primitive creatures whose appearance has changed little in thousands of years.