Being listed as "endangered" is usually a bad sign for animal species, but thanks to two unexpected births in the last few weeks, there may still be hope for the world's tapir population.
According to Sweden's English language news site, The Local, "Sweden laid claim to a rare animal sensation this week: the birth of two lowland tapirs at different zoos, a male and female respectively, out of about only 30 around the world in captivity annually." While the exact population of lowland tapirs is not known, scientists estimate that because of substantial habitat loss and fragmentation, lowland tapir populations have fallen by more than 30 percent in the past 3 generations (33 years).
The baby lowland tapirs, or Tapirus terrestis, resemble pigs with trunks. They are also sometimes referred to as Brazilian tapirs.
Öland Zoo in southeastern Sweden was proud to be home to the new female baby tapir foal. Two out of every three tapir foals born in captivity are males, so her presence is especially important to the survival of the species. The female tapir has not yet been named.
The second tapir baby was a male born five days later at Parken Zoo in Eskilstuna west of Stockholm (see video below). Because he was born on July 14th, Crown Princess Victoria's birthday, he was named Daniel in honor of Victoria's husband, Daniel Westling.
Although no official arranged romantic plans have been announced by either zoo, it is hoped that the tapirs will eventually be mated in two years when they reach sexual maturity.
National Geographic reports that "all four tapir species are endangered or threatened, largely due to hunting and habitat loss."