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The tapir is a strange looking animal, either brown, or black and white, hoofed animal with many similarities to the rhinoceros. Though not as big as the rhino, it is still quite large.
The skin is hairy and very thick, and the tail is short. Of the four living species, Tapirus indicus, the largest, is Malayan. The rest occur (far away) in Central and South America. These are black when adult although the young are striped yellow and white.
Tapirs form the family, Tapiridae, which belongs with the Rhinocerotidae (rhinos) in the suborder Tapiroidea.
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The chief external differences with rhinos are the absence of horns, the elongation of the snout into a short proboscis, the long neck, the absence of skin folds, and the presence of at least a sparse covering of hair.
Tapirs live in wet tropical forests, near a good supply of water and spend much of their time swimming, splashing about in the water and wallowing in mud like a rhinoceros.
They are are said to be shy, living alone or in pairs. They are seldom seen, as they usually shelter in the forests by day, coming out at night to feed. They are agile and can run when necessary. Tapirs drink a lot and eat aquatic vegetation as well as leaves, twigs and fruit. The tapir has very keen powers of hearing and scent. When disturbed they rush into the water, being able to swim well, or take cover in dense bush.
In all tapirs breeding takes place at any time of the year. After a gestation period of about 13 months they bear one young or, on the rare occasion, two.
Young tapirs of all species are dark and distinctively patterned with yellow and white longitudinal stripes and spots on the body and legs. A natural camouflage that allows them to blend into the forest while they are still young and vulnerable.
The pattern usually disappears in 6 to 8 months.
Zoo celebrates birth of very rare Tapir
A closer look at each individual species
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo - Malayan Tapir
Fellow Lensmaster Julianne Gentile took these photos at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and gave me permission to share them on this lens.
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Tapirs are virtually defenceless except for their rather thick skins; undoubtedly their shy nature has preserved them, together with their lack of worthwhile 'trophies'.
Mark 27th of April in your calendar as World Tapir Day and spread the word about these unusual and unique animals.
Rare Tapir Stuff - It's hard to find Tapir merchandise!
Ever seen one? Where? How much do you love 'em?