A NEW species, which will become part of a £30m development aiming to re-create the islands of south-east Asia in the heart of Cheshire, has arrived at Chester Zoo.
Marjorie, an 11-month-old Malayan tapir, has moved from Belfast Zoo as staff at Chester prepare for one of the largest zoo developments in Europe – designed to transform a disused area into the exotic climes of the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Bali, Sumatra, Sumba and Sulawesi.
Tim Rowlands, Chester Zoo’s curator of mammals, said: “Bringing a new species into a zoo involves an incredible amount of forward planning and isn’t something that can just be done off the cuff.
“So even though Islands isn’t due to open until 2015, we’ve had to really look ahead and think very carefully about the indigenous species of these amazing islands.
“Marjorie is the first of her kind to reside in Chester since the mid-1980s and we’re absolutely thrilled to welcome such a fantastic animal. Hopefully we’ll eventually pair her up with a male and play a key role in the international breeding programme for the species.”
Malayan tapirs, whose bodies are described as pig -ike, are native to Asia.
Mr Rowlands added: “They are a beautiful but rather unusual looking species, which are related to horses and rhinoceroses.
“Sadly they are listed as endangered species, partly because their distinct black-and-white coats make them a target to hunters.”
The species faces a high risk of extinction, with conservationists estimating that populations have declined by more than 50% in the last 30 years. This is mainly due to the destruction to their natural forest habitat as well as hunting for their meat and sport.
Visitors will soon be able to see Marjorie in the zoo’s cattle house.