World Tapir Day

April 27th is World Tapir Day. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the tapir, let me introduce you.

Tapirs are large herbivorous mammals about 7 feet long, 3 feet high and weigh a few hundred pounds. They live in South and Central America as well as parts of Asia. Some species can be found in rain forests, while others live up in the  mountains.  There are 4 species of tapir and the species have different colorings, with the Baird’s tapir being a dark brown, Malayan tapir being black and white, Mountain tapir being dark brown (but thicker fur), and the Brazilian tapir being dark grey/brown (babies are light brown with white markings).

But the thing you’ll probably notice first about the tapir is its proboscis, which is shorter than anteater’s. It’s very flexible and aids in grabbing foliage like an elephant’s.  As you can guess, the tapir has a very good sense of smell. It also has good hearing, both of which help compensate for the fact that tapirs don’t have excellent eyesight.

Like dogs and cats, and so much other wildlife, tapir are most active at dawn and dusk.  They are related to horses and rhinoceroses, which means they shared a common ancestor a long time ago.

Tapirs are big enough to not have much in the way of natural predation. When they are attacked, a tapir’s defenses include running away, hiding under water, and using its strong herbivore jaws to bite. Humans are the tapir’s biggest threat. They can live up to 25 years or more, but more research has to be done to learn more about their typical lifespan.

To the tapirs of the world, today, we salute you!

World Tapir Day card

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