Human Interest

Guatemala’s largest zoo shows off its 1st newborn tapir

Guatemala City, Sep 1 (EFE).- Guatemala’s largest zoo on Wednesday presented a baby tapir that was born on Aug. 11 and is the first in that facility’s nearly 100-year history.

The offspring of two tapirs named Maria and Andres that were received by the La Aurora Zoo at the beginning of last year, the newborn weighed three kilograms (6.6 pounds) at birth and has been a source of joy for the Guatemala City-based animal park, which also boasts a fourth tapir named Arabad.

The zoo’s marketing manager, Ana Lucia Vasquez, told Efe Wednesday that the tapir is an important animal in jungle and forested regions of South and Central America.

Known as a forest “architect,” that mammal facilitates reforestation because it consumes a diet of fruit and vegetables, ingests the seeds and defecates them intact, she said.

Latin America’s largest native land mammal, the tapir is not very well known but “is very important for forest balance in our country,” Vasquez added.

The three-week-old male tapir is still without a name, so the zoo is considering holding a contest to allow the Guatemalan people to come up with one.

Besides the newborn tapir, La Aurora also introduced two new tamarins that arrived in the Central American country through an exchange with the zoo in Leipzig, Germany.

The 14-hectare (35-acre), open-air La Aurora Zoo, which had welcomed around 10,000 people per day prior to the pandemic, is currently open from Tuesday to Sunday but is running at 25 percent capacity due to Covid-19.

Guatemala, by far the most populated country in Central America, has registered 470,277 confirmed coronavirus cases and officially attributed 11,926 deaths to Covid-19 since March 2020. Both figures are the highest in that region.

Guatemala has around 2,300 species of flora and fauna in danger of extinction and is considered one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, but the United Nations says that unique asset is under threat from mounting pressures, including land degradation, climate change, nutrient pollution, unsustainable use of biodiversity and invasive exotic species. EFE


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