LONDON, July 23 (Xinhua) -- A rare Malayan tapir was born at Chester Zoo in northern England Thursday as figures revealed fewer than 2,500 of the precious species remain on the planet.
"It's wonderful to hear the pitter-patter of tiny, spotty Malayan tapir feet again for only the second time ever in the zoo's long history," said Sarah Roffe, manager of the zoo.
Weighing just 5 kg at birth, the youngster follows a 13-month (391-day) pregnancy.
"Mom Margery is ever so good with the baby. She is very attentive but also gives him chance to explore and find his feet. The precious calf is another big boost for the international breeding program, which is working to ensure the already endangered species do not become extinct," the manager added.
Around half of the world's Malayan tapirs have been lost in the last 40 years, with fewer than 2,500 estimated to remain across Malaysia, Sumatra, Thailand and Myanmar, according to a spokesman at the zoo.
"Hunting, illegal logging and mass deforestation as land is cleared for unsustainable palm oil production are blamed for the decline in numbers," the spokesman added.
The Malayan tapir is related to both the horse and the rhinoceros. It is an "odd-toed" (or hoofed mammal), with four toes on each front foot and three on each back foot.
Baby tapirs have distinctive coats when first born, made up of a series of spots and stripes to help camouflage them on the forest floors in their native Southeast Asia.
This pattern will slowly change over the first six months to the unique black and white pattern of their parents.