As part of our animal rehabilitation and release program, we have been able to bring 5 tapirs (or antas, as they are known in Brazil) back to health and “soft release” them back into their natural habitat. A soft release is one that occurs in stages, where the animal in need of care is housed in an enclosed space appropriate for the species, initially assessing and providing any needed medical care, while minimizing human contact. We “graduate” them into larger spaces, with no human contact, as they heal and become more ready for a final release, when they are reintroduced into the wild again.
One of our former program residents, who we call Sassy, returned to an area by a group of our water tanks a few weeks ago with a baby – but we weren’t able to catch a photo of the two of them. (This was much to our disappointment, because baby tapirs are adorable.) We had seen Sassy on the wildlife camera by herself at times. She seemed to be keeping some distance between herself and the baby at times, which is supposedly common in the first month (similar to mother deer). But, to our delight, Sassy came through the property a few evenings ago with the baby in tow.
Tapirs are larger than you might think at first glance, and Sassy weighs probably between 350-400 pounds (as much as 180 kgs); the baby seems to be the size of a large dog – and both are pure muscle. Though we do see most of the rehabilitated tapirs on the outskirts of the property from time to time, this is the first time we’ve seen a released tapir with a baby. It is such a gratifying moment to know that the rehabilitated animals are not only surviving, but thriving and reproducing.