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Asian Gardens Animal Fact Sheet
MALAYAN TAPIR
Tapirus indicus

Range:
Burma and Thailand, south to the Malay peninsula and Sumatra
The black and white patterned Malayan tapir is the largest of the four species of tapirs, and the only tapir in the Old World (Eastern Hemisphere or Europe) . Tapirs are among the most primitive herbivores, dating back 20 million years, to when it roamed the northern hemisphere. The tapir is most closely related to the horse and rhinoceros.

The tapir's neck is short and its head extends into a short, flexible trunk, formed by the nose and upper lip. This small proboscis is a sensitive "finger" that enables the tapir to pull leaves and shoots to the mouth. The tapir's nostrils are located at the tip of this trunk and its sense of smell is outstanding. Like the rhinoceros, the tapir has poor eyesight. Ten distinct vocalizations are used by this mammal.

This tapir is usually found in dense forests, near water. It is an excellent swimmer and dives well. The water is used as a feeding area (feeds on aquatic plants), an escape route in danger and is sometimes the site of breeding. The tapir has an ability similar to that of the hippopotamus - it can walk on the bottom of streams. The tapir is generally solitary in the wild, but adjusts well to being with other Malayan tapirs when they are kept in zoos.

Habitat: Dense rain forests
Diet: Grasses, aquatic vegetation, leaves, buds, soft twigs and fruits of low shrubs
Status: Endangered due to habitat destruction. The forests where this animal is found are being cleared by logging and for agricultural purposes. The tapir is hunted for food, sport and for the thick skin, which makes a fine leather.
Approximate Dimensions of Adult: Length: 7 to 8 feet
Height: 3 to 4 feet
Weight: 550 to 750 lbs.
Lifespan: 30 years
Reproduction & Offspring: Gestation: 13 months. Offspring: one (twins are rare). The black and white coloration of the adult serves the important purpose of camouflage. The young tapir is born with spots and stripes resembling a watermelon.

 

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