South American tapir

South American tapir Tapirus terrestris (EEP)

ClassMammalia
OrderPerissodactyla
FamilyTapiridae
Size1.91–2.42m
Weight180–300kg
Gestationabout 13 months
Birth1
Life-span30 years
Diet
vegetarian (fruit, leaves, aquatic plants, grasses...)

Habitat
tropical forest

Range
South America (Guyana, Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina)


There are 4 tapir species. The South American tapir has the greatest range, embracing 11 countries.
 
Females are larger than males and give birth to one young after a pregnancy of about 13 months. The stripes and light spots of the baby’s coat camouflage it perfectly in vegetation, but these dim at about the age of 6 months. Adult fur is a uniform browny-black.
 
One of the tapir’s most striking physical features is the end of its snout, where its nose and upper lip form a trunk. Highly mobile and sensitive, this allows the animal to smell food and grab leaves and branches. Tapirs’ sense of smell and hearing are highly developed but their eyesight is rather poor.
 
Tapirs, largely nocturnal, are shy and silent and thus difficult to spot in their natural environment. They are also excellent swimmers They go into water to get rid of parasites and to avoid land predators such as jaguars.
 
Tapirs are endangered because of the destruction and fragmentation of their habitat but most of all because of the hunt for their meat, either to eat or sell.




Status in the wild (Source: IUCN)

  • Not evaluated
    NE
  • Data deficient
    DD
  • Least concern
    LC
  • Near threatened
    NT
  • Vulnerable
    VU
  • Endangered
    EN
  •  Critically endangered
    CR
  • Extinct in the wild
    EW
  • Extinct
    EX

In the zoo