tapir baby from Wikimedia

Tapirs are in a family of mammals related to horses and rhinos. These odd-toed ungulates browse for their food in the jungles and riverbanks of Southeast Asia and Latin America. They are roughly the size of a hog or small pony. There are agile swimmers and use their ability to “run” in water to evade predators like big cats or possibly even anacondas. Docile and shy by nature, if threatened, they have a nasty bite.

Tapirs are nocturnal or crepuscular, so early morning or late evening is the best time to see them awake. Their prehensile noses allow them to grab foliage like an elephant. For more information, visit the National Geographic fact sheet about tapirs.

Why pick a tapir?

I’ve always been fascinated by tapirs. I think they are incredibly cute. They are also incredibly rare. Conservation efforts have been underway for years, but all four species of tapirs are vulnerable or endangered. They suffer greatly from habitat loss and hunting.

Please consider donating to a conservation group like Tapir Specialist Group. Their site has information about tapirs and what you can do to help.