On first glance, a tapir is a weird, pig-like creature with a long snout. In reality it is not related to the pig at all, but to other members of the perissodactyla order, like horses and rhinoceros. The family name tapiridae is derived from tapyra, the Tupi name for tapir. Their preferred habitat is a dense, tropical rainforest. Four species of tapir, all endangered, exist in the world today.

Tapirs have short, thin legs with four toes on the front feet and three toes on their hinds, and a rather chubby build. While young tapirs look the same with a coat of horizontal, watermelon-like stripes, in adults the size and patterns differ. Their main shape remains the same, however. Their most particular feature, the snout, is agile and rubbery. Tapirs use it to pick tender leaves, fruit, and grass, and also as a snorkel for swimming. They move fast in water as well as on land whenever they feel threatened.

Adult tapirs lead solitary lives, each wandering their own large territory overlapping those of others. The animals communicate through smells and shrill whistles, and venture out on a search for food at dawn and dusk. Tapirs can live for up to 30 years. They mate for life and have long gestation periods, normally bearing only one offspring at a time.

Although hunted by leopards, tigers and humans, deforestation is their largest threat. The tapirs of South-East Asia receive protection these days, but all three species of America are threatened by extinction.

The species of tapir are:

Read, see and save tapirs: http://www.tapirback.com/tapirgal/

Ta"pir (?), n. [Braz. tapy'ra: cf. F. tapir.] Zool.

Any one of several species of large odd-toed ungulates belonging to Tapirus, Elasmognathus, and allied genera. They have a long prehensile upper lip, short ears, short and stout legs, a short, thick tail, and short, close hair. They have three toes on the hind feet, and four toes on the fore feet, but the outermost toe is of little use.

⇒ The best-known species are the Indian tapir (Tapirus Indicus), native of the East Indies and Malacca, which is black with a broad band of white around the middle, and the common American tapir (T. Americanus), which, when adult, is dull brown. Several others species inhabit the Andes and Central America.

Tapir tiger Zool., the wallah.


© Webster 1913.

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