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12th July, 2007
World’s first twins born of a Malay tapir

On the 27th of May, 2007, a female Malay tapir gave birth to a single female calf at the Malay Tapir Conservation Centre in Sungai Dusun, Malaysia. Subsequently, this was followed by a second birth of a single male calf, born on the 8th of June, 2007. This is the first recorded twinning in Malay tapirs and the longest birth intervals between two parturitions in an ungulate twin in the world.

Malay tapir family
The twins two days after the male calf were born.
© Zainal Zainuddin / DWNP

The first birth was noted at 15:30 on the 27th May, and the second at 07:30 on the 8th of June. Both calves were born unassisted and were healthy at birth. The placental remains were observed hanging down from the vagina and subsequently discharged and consumed by the dam. This behaviour is often observed amongst many antelope species too, where it is thought to prevent predators from discovering the newborn calf. The gestation period for the calves was between 371-376 days and 383-388 days respectively. The female calf weighed 10kg at birth, whereas the male weighed 9kg at birth.

Malay tapir twins
The female calf (left) on the 12th of July (46 days) is already attaining its
classical black and white colouration, whereas the male (34 days) is still in
its “baby” coat.
© Carl Traeholt / Malay tapir conservation project

The elder (and bigger) female dominated the younger male with regards to suckling. After suckling she would often position herself very close to the mammary gland even after finishing suckling. The situation was made worse by the location of the paired mammary glands within the inguinal region, which practically only allows for one calf to suckle at a time. The initial observations indicated that the male calf’s suckling period was only 1/3 of the total amount suckled by the female calf. Poor condition of the male calf prompted its removal for hand-rearing on the 5th day.

The growth rate ranged between 500-1000 grams per day. At one month, the female attained a body weight of 35kg while the male weighed 18kg.




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