Rare Malayan tapir born at Denver Zoo

A Malayan tapir born at the Denver Zoo has been named Baku. Denver Zoo/CBS Denver

DENVER - Seeing spots before your eyes? And stripes too? Meet Baku, the newborn Malayan tapir at the Denver Zoo.

The zoo introduced its newest inhabitant on Wednesday. The male calf was born to mother Rinny and father Benny on April 29. He is the second Malayan tapir -- an endangered species native to Asia - to be born at the zoo, CBS Denver reported.

Baku will remain behind the scenes with his mother until they are comfortable enough to venture outdoors. Until then visitors can see live, closed-circuit video of Baku on monitors inside the zoo's Toyota Elephant Passage.

"Baku" is the Japanese word for tapir. Baku are also supernatural spirits in Chinese and Japanese folklore that take children's nightmares away and protect against evil. They are often depicted as having some tapir-like physical characteristics.

Baku is the second calf for Rinny and Benny. Their first, Dumadi, was born in September 2012.

Although they are most closely related to horses and rhinos, tapirs are similar in build to pigs, but significantly larger.

Malayan tapirs are the largest of the four tapir species. They stand more than 3 feet tall and can stretch from between 6 to 8 feet long. On average they weigh between 700 and 900 pounds.

Malayan tapir calves, like Baku, have a coat of spots and stripes designed to help camouflage them in he forest. As adults, they develop a distinctive color pattern with black front and back parts separated by a white or gray midsection.

Once found throughout Southeast Asia, Malayan tapirs now inhabit only the rainforests of the Indochinese peninsula and Sumatra. Hunting and habitat loss have decimated the population, and there are believed to be fewer than 2,000 of them left in the wild.

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