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Baird's Tapir

Updated on December 04, 2016

Tapirus bairdii

The last and the largest of the New World group, is Baird's tapir T. bairdii, which weighs 600 pounds (270 kg).

This species is short-haired like the South American, with very small bristles along the nape as a reduced version of the latter's mane. It is particularly distinguished by its very light, even whitish cheeks, throat and neck, as well as white lips and ear-tips. The head is more convex than the South American or Roulin's tapir, and the nasal bones are supported by an ossification which strengthens the base of the proboscis.

Image ©2008 Splash Damage Ltd. Used with permission.

This species occurs in South America mainly northwest of the Andes in Ecuador and Colombia, north from the Gulf of Guayaquil. It extends north in Central America through Guatemala and Nicaragua to Veracruz and southeastern Mexico, to the northern limit of the tropical forest. Apparently its invasion into South America has been comparatively recent. Records today indicate a range overlap with the South American tapir in Colombia, which was not recorded previously.

Baird's tapir breeds, in Mexico, in March. The female's oestrus lasts four to five days and during this time the male and female copulate several times. During oestrus the female is very aggressive towards others of her sex, very restless and constantly utters a characteristic squeak. The gestation period is 390-400 days. The young suckle standing, sitting or lying down.

Photo by Belizian
Photo by Belizian

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