Newborn Baby Tapir Struts In Stripes

This South American tapir was born May 19, but he could have been born over tens of millions of years ago, since scientists believe these animals, now endangered, haven’t changed much in the interim.

The little fella — pictured with mom Ivana; he doesn’t have a name yet — lives at the Prague Zoo. National Geographic explains why tapirs (memorable to science fiction fans for hanging with the apes in the first part of 2001: A Space Odyssey) have such distinctive-looking faces:

Tapirs have a short prehensile (gripping) trunk, which is really an extended nose and upper lip. They use this trunk to grab branches and clean them of leaves or to help pluck tasty fruit. Tapirs feed each morning and evening. During these hours they follow tunnel-like paths, worn through the heavy brush by many a tapir footstep, to reach water holes and lush feeding grounds. As they roam and defecate they deposit the seeds they have consumed and promote future plant growth.

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AP photo by Petr David Josek

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