Cute animal alert: New baby tapir goes on display at Minnesota Zoo

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A baby tapir made its debut at the Minnesota Zoo Wednesday.

The male calf, who was born last month, was on display to the public for the first time for about an hour Wednesday morning, romping around with his mother, Bertie, in their enclosure.

"They're bonding very well," Tropics Trail Supervisor Tom Ness told MPR News. He added that Bertie and zoo staff are teaching the baby how to swim.

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The calf will be on exhibit from 9 a.m.-10 a.m. each day, and the length of time will get longer as he grows older and gets more acclimated to his surroundings, according to zoo officials.

When the calf is not on exhibit you can still watch his activities on the zoo's live Tapir Web Cam (requires Internet Explorer).

The calf doesn't have a name yet. The zoo plans to hold a naming contest for the little guy shortly, so members of the public can send in their suggestions, according to MPR News.

About Malayan tapirs

Malayan tapirs are one of the most endangered animals in Southeast Asia, the zoo notes, and this calf is only the 37th tapir to be born in North America.

Tapir populations are declining due to habitat loss from deforestation for agricultural purposes, flooding caused by dam building for hydroelectric projects, and illegal trade.

"We are very excited to welcome this new tapir to the Minnesota Zoo. Malayan tapirs are endangered, and this birth is a significant conservation achievement as it’s estimated that fewer than 1,500 exist in the wild," Ness said. "This is an example of the great care the zoo’s animal care teams provide our animals."

Young tapirs grow quickly, the zoo says. This little calf was born weighing 19 pounds, and already has gained nearly 10 pounds. Many calves weigh as much as 450 pounds by the time they’re a year old.

Bertie also gave birth to a female calf in July 2013.

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