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Species Spotlight - February 2011
Tapirs are among the most primitive large mammals in the world, dating back 20 million years. Their unique coloration is two-toned -- black in the front and hind, and white in the mid-section. This unusual animal has a short neck and short trunk or snout formed by the nose and upper lip. Tapir calves have an even more distinct appearance, born with spots and stripes resembling a watermelon, which begin to transform to adult coloration after 6-8 months.
One of four species of tapirs worldwide, the Malayan tapir is an endangered species that inhabits dense rainforests of Southeast Asia. A male and female tapir pair can be found in the in a Balinese-themed habitat within the Asian Gardens exhibit area at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. The Zoo’s animals are members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Tapir Species Survival Plan (SSP).
The emu (pronounced ee-mew) is a prehistoric bird native to Australia that can be traced back about 80 million years! As Australia’s tallest native bird at heights of 5-6 feet, it is second only to the ostrich as the largest bird in the world. The emu is flightless with a long neck, small head and very long legs. The hair-like plumage of both the male and female is brownish-grey with a shaggy appearance.
Emus are known for their unusual vocalizations (known as grunting, drumming and booming), and the ability to run at speeds of up to 30 miles an hour. These unique birds live in flocks in grassy plains and open forests. Found abundantly in the “land down under,” emus can also been seen in the Wallaroo Station exhibit area at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.
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