1) General Zoological Data
Of the four species of tapirs, Tapirus indicus is the only Asiatic form; the other three species are South American tapirs. The Malayan tapir is characterized by its white saddle and larger size. The saddle is also the reason for its name "saddle backed tapir" or "Schabrackentapir", in German. The young of all species have fine white stripes on brown skin. Malayan tapirs are generally solitary animals. They are the largest of the four species, weighing in excess of 350 kg. The females are usually somewhat larger than males. Tapirs need warm environments in order to thrive in captivity, and they must ideally have access to a pool. Tapirs are excellent swimmers. The longevity of this species is over 30 years in captivity. Many animals are kept and bred in various zoological gardens. All tapirs are endangered species.
The name "tapir" derives from a South American Indian tribe, the Tupi (Gotch, 1979). The designation "indicus", however, is misleading, as these animals do not come from India. Rather, they are "East Indian" from Sumatra and the Malayan peninsula. Some taxonomists have preferred to assign the genus name "Acrocodia" to the Malayan tapir because of its being somewhat distinct from the South American forms. There is a detailed description of morphology and phylogeny in Starck (1995). Barongi (1993) presented an inclusive report on the management and conservation of tapirs in 1993.
The tapiridae were once distributed world-wide and the East Indian and American tapirs are believed to have diverged from one another about 20-30 MYA (Ashley et al., 1996). The South American tapirs immigrated about 3 MYA from North America where they became extinct. Between 1000-3000 Malayan tapirs may still be in the wild, according to Ashley et al. (1996).
|Female Malayan tapir with neonate at San Diego Zoo.|
|Female Malayan tapir with neonate at San Diego Zoo.|
|Pair of Malayan tapirs at San Diego Zoo to show their aquatic ability and long snouts.|
General Gestational Data
General Characterization of the Placenta
I have had the opportunity to study two full-term placentas from a Malayan tapirs. Both were diffuse organs, weighing 240 and 1,400 g and one measuring 45 cm in greatest diameter, the other 140 x 80 cm. Another was 80 cm in length and up to 0.3 cm in thickness. Much of the chorionic surface was studded with small villi, but many had been rubbed off during the process of delivery for which reason the weight may be too low. Some surface areas were smooth and may represent the yolk sac region described by Dolinar (1967). The remarkable feature of these placentas is their very thinness.
|Full-term placenta of Malayan tapir. It is so thin that one can see the green floor through most of the membranes. Thus, to identify the "smooth" areas is difficult.|
|Site of cord insertion with some (reddish) villus tissue seen adjacent. Tiny yellowish amnionic "callosities" seen at left.|
|Second specimen spread out to suggest lay-out in uterus. It is very translucent.|
|One of the "microcotyledons" of this delivered placenta from a Malayan tapir. The arborized villi are obvious. Naturally, there is no maternal tissue. The amnion is seen above the chorion, somewhat detached.|
Details of fetal/maternal barrier
|Final arborization of a villus with single-layer trophoblast. It has a very fine microvillous brush border.|
|Marked edematous blebs in the membranes of the second tapir placenta.|
|Surface of the umbilical cord with a keratinized squamous epithelium and some detached keratin.|
|This is the allantoic duct within the umbilical cord. Its lining is a multi-layered transitional epithelium, similar to that of the urinary bladder. Small muscle bundles and blood vessels are seen in the wall.|
|Surface of amnion. Much of the epithelium has degenerated, but the "callosities" are seen as small protrusions.|
|The amnionic surface with "callosities. Some have balls of squamous epithelium.|
|The allantoic sac is above, with single-layered epithelium and numerous blood vessels. The amnion (below) has degenerated (autolyzed) epithelium and moderate round cell infiltration.|
|Hippomanes (6x4x0.5 cm) of second tapir placenta.|
Trophoblast external to barrier
|Neonatal uterus at the site of the extensions of the two uterine horns.|
|Neonatal ovary of Malayan tapir showing massive luteinization of stromal cells.|
|Neonatal ovary with oocyte mantle in the top one-half; below is the luteinized layer.|
|Testis of neonatal Malayan tapir with stimulated interstitial cells (I.C.).|
Other remarks - What additional Information is needed?
R.A.: Husbandry and conservation of tapirs. Int. Zoo. Ybk. 32:7-13, 1993.
Dolinar, Z.J.: Uber die Omphaloplazenta der Perissodactyla. Anat. Anaz. (Suppl.) 120:637-640, 1967.
A.F.: Mammals - Their Latin Names Explained. Blandford Press, Poole, Dorset,
Griner, L.A.: Pathology of Zoo Animals. Zoological Society of San Diego, San Diego, California, 1983.
M.L., Kingswood, S.C. and Kumamoto, A.T.: Comparative cytogenetics of
tapirs, genus Tapirus (Perissodactyla, Tapiridae). Cytogenet. Cell
Genet. 89:110-115, 2000.
Mossman, H.W.: Vertebrate Fetal Membranes. MacMillan, Houndmills, 1987.
Nowak, R.M.: Walker's Mammals of the World. 6th ed. The Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, 1999.
W.: Zootierhaltung. Vol. 2, Säugetiere. VEB Deutscher Landwirtschaftsverlag
Starck, D.: Säugetiere. In, Lehrbuch der Speziellen Zoologie (A. Kaestner, Founder). Vol. II Wirbeltiere. Teil 5/2. Gustav Fischer Verlag, Jena, 1995.
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