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Baird’s tapir

Born: July 21, 2006 South American yard

A Pushy Nose

Can you use your nose to push around food or to help pick leaves off trees? Javier, the first male Baird’s tapir born at the Milwaukee County Zoo, can. Javier has a flexible upper lip that turns into a long “nose” that looks and acts like an elephant’s trunk. Besides having a small trunk, tapirs are known for their color change from a calf to an adult. They are born with a reddish brown coat with striking white spots and stripes. By the time tapirs turn 9 months old, the white has disappeared and they have bristly, short dark brown hair, with the only white being on the tips of their ears. In addition to their color change, Baird’s tapirs have a rare trait in the animal world. Females are larger than males. When he was born on July 21, Javier weighed almost 24 pounds and was about 31 inches long. When grown, he will be about 4 feet tall, 6 feet long, and weigh up to 550 pounds. Adult females can weigh up to 800 pounds. Despite their bulky frame and having three toes on their back legs and four toes on their front, Baird’s tapirs can run fast, climb hills, and swim. An endangered species, Baird’s tapirs, also known as Central American tapirs, are the largest land mammals found in Mexico and Central America. They can live in a variety of environments from marshes to forests. To avoid predators, Baird’s tapirs have excellent smell and hearing and can be active day or night. So they are rarely seen in the wild. The Zoo’s Baird’s tapirs go indoors off exhibit in the fall until mid-April, or when the temperature gets above 50 degrees. Javier will be on exhibit with his mother, Eve. Javier’s father is named Harley.

Ringed Teal

Hatched: July 25, 2006 Herb & Nada Mahler Family Aviary

Hey, Look up!

If you think that all ducks can be found paddling in the water, think again. The Zoo’s five ringed teal ducklings may be sitting above your head! Ringed teals, also known as perching ducks, nest in trees or high up in rocks or cliffs. These 1-foot-tall birds have fairly long toes with strong, sharp toenails that help them sit in trees. Their webbed feet let these birds walk on mud and swim. Five ringed teals were hatched at the Milwaukee County Zoo in July 2006. The two male and three female ducklings stayed together as a group, diving and playing. The females are all brown, with a white spot on the head and a speckled, brown-and-white breast. The more colorful males have a black- spotted pink breast and dark maroon wings (see photo). The ringed teal’s Latin name is Callonetta leucophrys, which roughly translates to “the beautiful duck with the spot on the wing.” You may see this spot when the birds open their 28-inch-long wings. In 2007 the Zoo plans to bring in more ringed teals for breed- ing. They are not endangered. “It’s nice that the ducklings were hatched here at the Zoo,” says Kim Smith, curator of birds. “They have been in the same area since they were born; so they won’t run and hide from viewers of the aviary like some of the other birds.” Native to South America, these ducks live in tropical, swampy forests and marshy, well-wooded lowlands. They use nature-made nests such as a hole in a tree or nests abandoned by other birds. You can see the ringed teals in the Free Flight Area of the aviary. Remember, don’t just look in the water.

Alive WINTER 2007 23

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