Point Defiance Zoo trots out a tapir, in two-tone

Baku, a Malayan tapir, can now be seen at Point Defiance Zoo.
Baku, a Malayan tapir, can now be seen at Point Defiance Zoo. Courtesy of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

A Malayan tapir now lives at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and visitors can see the 18-month-old in his new exhibit starting Saturday. (Oct. 10).

Baku came from the Denver Zoo. At 530 pounds and 2½ feet tall, he isn’t yet full grown. Adult males usually reach 3 feet and 800 pounds.

Zoo officials hope to one day get a female tapir and breed the pair. The animals are endangered, with fewer than 2,000 estimated to remain in the wild.

Keepers said Baku is making himself known by whistling or squealing when he’s curious or hungry. He’s been munching on apples, carrots, yams, romaine lettuce, hay and grain.

“Baku is a young, vibrant animal and we’re excited to have him here at Point Defiance Zoo,” said Christy Webster, a staff biologist. “We’re looking forward to helping our visitors learn more about these unusual animals.”

Tapirs (pronounced TAPE-er) are black in the front and back and white in the middle, camouflaging them in the moonlight, when they’re most active. Their long, flexible snout allows them to reach food on branches above them.

They can climb slopes and gallop quickly when scared and are related to horses and rhinoceroses.

Baku can be seen in the Asian Forest Sanctuary and eventually might share an exhibit with other Southeast Asian animals, such as siamangs and white-cheeked gibbons.

Although the zoo has had tapirs in the past, Baku currently is the only one of his species.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653


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