Month old Brazilian tapir looking at camera in front of white ba

Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park recently welcomed a rare newborn South American tapir. 

To ensure the newborn’s survival, the calf is receiving around-the-clock care by Wildlife World’s expert hand-raising and veterinarian team inside the baby animal nursery.

Vulnerable to extinction, the South American tapir is threatened by habitat destruction and hunting (for their meat and hides). Due to their large size, slow rate of reproduction, and sensitivity to habitat loss, tapirs are often among the first species to decline when humans disturb an ecosystem. The South American tapir is the largest surviving native terrestrial mammal in the Amazon.

Of the endlessly inspiring animal and plant species that make up the diversity of life on Earth, tapirs play an incredibly important role in developing and maintaining healthy ecosystems. 

Known as “Gardeners of the Forest,” they consume a vast variety of plant matter, then disperse the seeds through their scat. This not only improves forest health overall, but it also spreads the seeds of certain slow-growing trees with very dense wood — the very trees most important for sequestering carbon. This makes the tapir one of the world’s most crucial helpers in combating climate change.

Tapirs are among the most primitive large mammals in the world, changing little in appearance for millions of years. This prehistoric-looking animal looks like a massive pig with a long snout. However, because they have an odd number of toes (four toes on each front foot, three on each back foot), their closest relatives are horses and rhinos.

With more than 600 species and 6,000 animals on display, there are always new arrivals at Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park. Other babies on display include a baby giraffe, litter of black-backed jackals, endangered addax and Arabian oryx, and other youngsters throughout the 100-acre park.

Wildlife World’s keepers and veterinarians have raised dozens of species of wild and endangered animals over the past quarter century. Wildlife World strives to maximize genetic diversity in the zoological population with its breeding programs. 

As a USDA-licensed, private institution, accredited by the Zoological Association of America (ZAA) and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums (AMMPA), Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park receives zero taxpayer funding. 

Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park is located at 16501 W. Northern Avenue, Litchfield Park. It’s open seven days a week, 365 days a year, including all holidays. Zoo exhibits are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (last zoo admission is at 4:30 p.m.). Aquarium exhibits are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission includes access to the zoo, aquarium and safari park.

For more info, call 623-935-WILD (9453) or visit Facebook, Instagram or Twitter @ZooWildlife and wildlifeworld.com.