Posted July 2019
The Milwaukee County Zoo is excited to welcome a Baird’s tapir! Iibu, pronounced Eeee-bow, is a 1 ½-year-old male transferred to the Zoo from the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, Arizona.
Iibu alternates his time on exhibit with 22-year-old male Harley in the South America habitat. The Zoo hopes to receive a breeding recommendation for Iibu from the Tapir Species Survival Plan® (SSP) soon.
Zookeepers describe Iibu as “inquisitive and very active,” and say that he enjoys interactions with them. Iibu’s favorite food is bananas and his favorite enrichment item (used to encourage natural behaviors) is “anything he can toss around.”
The name Iibu comes from the Rama indigenous people from the Nicaragua area. It is a type of fruit tree that is an important food source for tapirs.
Tapirs are the largest land mammal in Central and South America, averaging around 6.6 feet in length and 330-880 pounds in weight. They use their short, prehensile snout to pick things up, and as a “snorkel” to hide underwater. Baird’s tapirs are native to the tropical forests and grasslands of Mexico, Central America, and northwestern South America. They are herbivorous, typically feeding on leaves, fruit, and twigs.
The Baird’s tapir is considered endangered, threatened by poaching and habitat loss. Tapirs have a low birth rate and long gestation period, making it difficult for populations to recover. It is believed that there are less than 5,000 surviving Baird’s tapirs in the wild. The Zoo hopes to form a breeding pair in the future to contribute genetic diversity to the population.
Stop by and welcome Iibu to the Zoo during your next visit! The South America habitat is located near the Florence Mila Bochert Big Cat Country building.