Chester Zoo welcomes birth of 'precious' Malayan tapir

A rare Malayan tapir has been born at Chester Zoo in what has been hailed as an "important moment" for the conservation of the endangered species.

The female calf, which has been named Nessa, arrived to parents Margery (10) and Betong (10) in the early hours of Wednesday 30 November, weighing just 9kg. It followed a 13-month-long (391-day) pregnancy.

Chester Zoo is one of just two British zoos currently caring for the Malayan tapir - a species listed as endangered on the International Union of Conservation of Nature's (IUCN's) Red List of Threatened Species.

Fewer than 2,500 are estimated to remain across Malaysia, Sumatra, Thailand and Myanmar, with hunting, illegal logging and mass deforestation blamed for a decline in numbers, which has seen more than half of the world's Malayan tapirs lost in the last 40 years.

Mike Jordan, Director of Animal and Plants at Chester Zoo, said: "We're over the moon that Margery has delivered a healthy female calf - a birth that marks an important moment in our efforts to prevent the extinction of this wonderfully charismatic but sadly endangered species."

The Malayan tapir is the largest of the world's four tapir species and is related to both the horse and the rhinoceros. It is an 'odd-toed' animal, having four toes on each front foot and three toes on each back foot. At birth, baby tapirs have distinctive coats featuring a series of spots and stripes. This patterning is to help camouflage them on the forest floor, but it slowly changes over the first six months of their life to mirror the unique black and white pattern of their parents.