Species profile

Name: the tapir is a is a large mammal related to horses, donkeys, zebras, and rhinos. There are five species including: the South American tapir (also known as the Brazilian, maned, or lowland tapir); Baird’s (or Central American) tapir; little black (or kambomani) tapir; mountain (or wolly) tapir; and the Malayan (or Asian) tapir.

Appearance: tapirs are similar in shape to pigs although they are easily distinguished by their short, prehensile trunks. They range in colour from reddish brown to dark grey. The two exceptions are the Malayan tapir – which has distinctive white and black markings – and the mountain tapir – which has longer, woolly fur.

Size: their size varies between types although most tapirs reach around 2 metres long and weigh between 150 and 300 kg.

Diet: their diet consists of fruit, berries, and leaves. Baird’s tapirs have been observed to eat around 40 kg of food in one day!

Did you know: although they live in forests, tapirs like to spend time underwater feeding on vegetation, hiding from predators, and cooling off during hot periods. Tapirs will often swim, sink to the bottom, and then walk along the riverbed to feed, and have been known to submerge themselves under water to allow small fish to pick parasites off their bodies.

Location: tapirs inhabit forested regions of South America, Central America, and Southeast Asia.

Where to see tapirs

According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see tapirs in the following places:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
Costa Rica
very good
Madre de Dios
very good

Photo credit: baradarmova, under a Creative Commons license from Flickr

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