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Brazilian Tapir

brazilian tapir

Tapirus terrestris


Most rainforested areas of South America


Moist, wet or seasonally inundated areas and tropical rainforests


Grasses, leaves, buds, soft twigs, fruits of low growing shrubs, aquatic vegetation and shoots


390-400 days (13 months), one young born


30 years



Conservation status:



The tapir's short, fleshy, trunk-like nose helps the animal to sniff its way through the forest and is a sensitive 'finger' used to pull leaves and shoots towards its mouth. This prehensile snout also makes a great snorkel when the tapirs are bathing. They love water and are excellent swimmers. They are short and stocky-legged animals with four toes on their front feet and three on their hind feet. They are covered in short bristly hair. Tapirs are agile both on open ground and in dense forests. They are generally shy and docile and will run to water or the bush when disturbed. Tapir tend to follow the same track each night, so much so that human engineers often follow their trails up the sides of mountains when constructing roads. The tapir is a hoofed animal that is most closely related with the horse and the rhinoceros. The tapir is considered vulnerable. The main threats to the species include loss of habitat through deforestation, hunting for meat and competition with domestic livestock. The impacts of hunting on populations are amplified by their slow reproductive rate making it difficult for them to repopulate impacted areas.

Tapirs Branco and Mrs Branco taking a dip at Hamilton Zoo

At Hamilton Zoo:

Hamilton Zoo is lucky to have the only tapirs in New Zealand. The lovely couple Branco and Mrs Branco share their enclosure with the spider monkeys and gerald the goose. Branco was born 4 October 1990 and Mrs Branco was born 23 May 1991.