PUTRAJAYA: Two Malayan Tapirs are about to embark on a journey of their lives to Japan, where the animal is regarded as the "eater of nightmares".
Im, a two-year-old male tapir, and its mate, three-year-old Bertam, will be placed at the world-class Nagasaki Bio Park for 10 years under a conservation programme by Malaysia and Japan.
Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Makio Miyagawa said tapirs were known as "Baku" in the country's mythology, a creature believed to eat people's nightmares.
"The tapir is a charming animal. It is large and has a cute snout. The two tapirs will have a reason to be welcomed and loved by people in Japan.
"Hopefully the arrival of the Malayan Tapirs will reduce our nightmares," he said at the signing ceremony of the conservation programme's agreement here yesterday.
The agreement was signed by Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) director-general Datuk Abd Rasid Samsudin and Nagasaki Bio Park director Satoshi Yamaguchi, and witnessed by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and Dr Miyagawa.
"Besides becoming a zoo attraction, the animals will provide more insight to the research on tapir conservation as well as wildlife captive breeding," said Dr Wan Junaidi.
Im and Bertam, from the Sungai Dusun Wildlife Conservation Centre, are expected to leave for Japan at the end of the month.
The collaboration with the bio park, said Dr Wan Junaidi, would also allow the ministry to learn more about zoo and park management.
"We will be sending two officers every year to be based at the park and they will be trained in zoo and park management," he said.