Beloved Brevard Zoo Baird tapir is heading to new zoo

Many remember Theo the Baird’s tapir as a "baby watermelon" whose been raised at the Brevard Zoo. Theo is spreading his wings and is now ready to embark on a new journey at a new zoo. 

Theo is now over a year old and is over 400 pounds and will head to a fellow AZA-accredited zoo under recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.

The plan includes pairing Theo with a female in the future with hopes of growing the population of his endangered species. The animal care team at the zoo has been crate training Theo to get him used to the space that he'll be transported in. 

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Credit: Brevard County Zoo

The zoo said after Theo's departure, they plan to reintroduce his parents, 4-year-old Mia and 6-year-old Antonio which means a baby tapir could be on the way. 

Mia and older female tapir Josie will continue to rotate through their multiple habitats in Rainforest Revealed and Wild Florida, the zoo said. 

The zoo said:

"This move is bittersweet for us here at the Zoo. While we will miss Theo dearly, we are excited that he is moving to a great new home and is playing an important role in the future of his species."

Baird’s tapirs are endangered due to habitat loss and human hunting. This species is known for appearing watermelon-like as young thanks to their unique pattern. In their natural habitat, this design helps a little one camouflage in the filtered sunlight of the forest. The stripes eventually fade as tapirs grow older and resemble the coloring of their adult counterparts.