About animals

Tapiridae Tapiridae Family


The sizes are small. Body length 180-200 cm, tail length 5-10 cm, height at the withers 75-120 cm. Weight 225-300 kg. The physique is heavy. The body is rounded on top and tapers anteriorly. The limbs are short and thick. The forelimbs are four- and the hind three-fingered. III finger is the largest. The hooves are small oval. The eyes are small. Ears are short, rounded, inactive. The muzzle ends with a small movable proboscis formed by the nose and upper lip. The nostrils open at the end of the trunk. The skin is thick. Hair is very rare, straight, bristle-shaped. Sometimes a short mane runs along the midline of the neck. Body color is monochromatic - dark brown or reddish on the dorsal side and light on the ventral. In Asian tapirs, the front of the body and hind limbs are blackish, the rest of the body is white. Young tapirs are dark with white and yellow longitudinal stripes and spots; at the age of 6-8 months they acquire the color of adult animals. No scrotum.

Skull elongated with a high brain box. The nasal bones are short. The external bony nasal openings are large.

The third upper incisor is canine-like and larger than the canine. Fangs are well developed. Cheek teeth with a low crown (brachyodont) with a series of transverse ridges and protrusions on the chewing surface. The last three pre-molars are similar to molars.

The radius and ulna are approximately equally developed and do not merge with each other.

Distributed in Burma, Thailand, on the Malacca Peninsula, on the island of Sumatra and in Central and South America.

They live in forest and shrubbery near water bodies or in wetlands. In the mountains rise to 4500 m above sea level. Able to move quickly in dense thickets. Swim and dive well. Meet singly or in pairs. Active at dusk and at night. Keep on individual sites. They feed on various plants, including aquatic. Sometimes they raid the fields. There is no seasonality in reproduction. The duration of pregnancy is 390-400 days. The female brings one, rarely two cubs on average every 15 months. Maturity occurs in females in 3-4 years, in males a year later. Life expectancy is about 30 years. Tapirs are well tamed.

In the family of 1 genus: Tapirus Bnsson, 1762, and 4 species.

The tapir family is represented by the only genus that includes four species, three of them live in South and Central America, and one, black tapir, in Southeast Asia. As fossil remains show, before the Pleistocene glaciation, tapirs (now extinct forms) inhabited a significant part of the tropics between America and Southeast Asia.

Central American tapir is an animal of dense build about the size of a donkey, legs are short, shoulder height is 100-110 centimeters. A slightly elongated nose forms a small trunk, the tail is short. Like other representatives of the genus, there are four toes on the front legs, and only three on the hind legs. The overall color is dark brown. Unlike other species on the muzzle, throat and chest, there are white spots, ears along the edges and lips are also white, instead of mane, stiff bristles on the scruff of the neck.

(D. Fisher, N. Simon, D. Vincent "The Red Book", M., 1976)

The most primitive artiodactyls belong to the tapir family, which have 4 fingers on the front legs and 3 fingers on the hind legs. The third finger is most strongly developed on the front and hind legs, which carries the main load. Fingers have small hooves, similar to horses.

Tapirs are massive animals, weighing 225-300 kg, body length 180-200 cm, height at the withers 75-120 cm. Their tail is short (5-10 cm), head with a small movable proboscis, formed nose and upper lip, eyes small, ears short, teeth 42–44. The upper external incisors are elongated. Thick tapir skin is usually coated short hair.

In the Tertiary, tapirs were widespread in Asia, Europe and North America, and entered South America only at the beginning of the Pleistocene. At this time, they had already become extinct in Europe; the number of their species in North America and Asia was sharply reduced.

Currently, one species lives in Southeast Asia and 4 species live in South America. These animals inhabit swampy forests and shrubs. They are very mobile, can jump, crawl under fallen trees, often sit in the backside, which is not characteristic of other ungulates, swim and dive well, looking for underwater plants or fleeing enemies. Tapir pregnancy lasts 390-400 days. The cub will always be born alone, in bright stripes and spots, similar in color to the piglet near the boar.

Habitat and appearance

Tapir Family (Tapiridae) - Probably the most ancient and primitive of the Oryx. The name of these animals in the language of one of the Brazilian tribes means "fat" and they got it because of their thick skin. Tapirs live in South America and Southeast Asia, where they inhabit swampy forests and shrubs along the banks of rivers and lakes. 4 modern species - the remains of a once vast group, the range of which extended to the entire Northern Hemisphere. The most amazing feature of their structure is a small elongated and mobile proboscis, formed by fused nose and upper lip and used to break off leaves or young shoots. Tapirs have four toes on their front legs and three on their hind legs, with each toe ending in a small hoof. This structure of the limbs helps animals move along soft marshy soil. The tapir’s tail is short and chopped off.


Plain tapir Tapirus terrestris - mammal of the order of the artiodactyls, tapir family.

Russian name - Plain tapir
English name - South American tapir
Latin name - Tapirus terrestris
Order - Artiodactyls (Perissodactyla)
Family - Tapir (Tapiridae)


These ancient animals are very mobile, can jump, crawl under fallen trees, often sit in the backside, which is not characteristic of other ungulates. They swim perfectly, dive, can stay under water for a surprisingly long time, and when in danger, they always seek salvation in it. Tapirs, living near rivers and lakes, spend a lot of time in the water, feeding on soft algae. In the forests, tapirs feed on shrubs, fruits and berries. They are active mainly at night, they usually wait for the heat of the day, lying in the thicket or sitting in the water.

Social Behavior and Reproduction

Tapirs lead a solitary lifestyle and are rarely found in groups in which more than three individuals. Their pregnancy is long, about 13 months. Tapir cubs are not like adults and have a protective color, consisting of white longitudinal stripes and spots on a dark brown background, they spend the first days in a protected place. At the age of six months, the beautiful pattern begins to disappear, and in the year the color becomes the same as in adults.

View and man

The rarity of these animals is explained by the fact that tapirs are hunted for meat and skin. In addition, deforestation destroys the original habitats of tapirs. As a result, tapirs in search of food can go to sugar cane or cocoa plantations adjacent to the forest. Such visits usually end with tapir killing.

Plain tapirs are often kept in zoos. They are easily tamed.


At first glance, tapir seems like a boar, but only at first glance. The body of the tapir is stocky, muscular. On the front legs, 4 fingers, on the hind legs 3. Each finger ends in a small hoof. On the neck of the plain tapir there is an almost equine mane, its teal distinguishes it from the rest of the genus.

The upper lip, together with an elongated nose, forms a small but very mobile proboscis, ending in a patch, with this proboscis tapirs can break off the leaves. Small eyes are located on the sides of the head. The color of the coat is dark throughout the body, only the edges of the ears are decorated with a white “edging”. The cubs are born dark with intermittent white stripes throughout the body. Gradually, the camouflage color disappears and by the age of one year young tapirs become an “adult” color.

Tapir is a large animal: body weight varies from 150 to 270 kg, females are much heavier than males. The height in the shoulders is up to 108 cm, and the body length is up to 220 cm. With such a massive body, the tail is small, only 8 cm long.

Nutrition and feed behavior

Tapirs feed on various plants, preferring their softest parts. In addition to tapira leaves, they eat kidneys, fruits, and aquatic plants. For catching aquatic plants can dive. And if the “tidbit” hangs high, the tapir stands on its hind legs, leaning its front on a tree, and tries to pluck the coveted fruit with its movable proboscis.


When communicating with relatives, tapirs emit piercing, whistle-like sounds.

Breeding and rearing offspring

Tapirs reach puberty by years. Propagate year-round without sticking to a specific season. Pregnancy lasts up to 412 days (more than a year!), After which one cub is born. Very rarely, twins are born. The newborn baby is covered with dark hair, with stripes of white color. The stripes on his skin are not continuous, but intermittent. A newborn baby weighs 4 - 7 kg. The first days of life, the baby sits in a shelter, but after only a week begins to accompany his mother when she goes to feed. Six months later, the female ceases to feed the calf with milk, and he switches to feeding on plant food. By this time, his camouflage striped color disappears. Young tapir reaches adult size by one and a half years. May participate in reproduction at the age of 3-4 years.

Animal at the Moscow Zoo

Our tapir is a female, born in 1986, in 2005 she came to us from the Berlin Zoo. Tapirs are herbivorous animals, therefore, in the zoo, she receives boiled potatoes and carrots, leaf lettuce, various fruits, herculean porridge with peas, which are supplemented with vitamins and mineral top dressing, as well as special compound feed.

Since the female is no longer young, she is, as they say, with character. Every new event or change in the usual routine of life is regarded with suspicion. For example, the arrival of locksmiths or electricians can knock her out of the rut for half a day, and the need to switch to a neighboring cage, which usually contains a giraffe, turns into a serious problem. Of course, when working with such an animal, special techniques are needed that, on the one hand, facilitate the work with it, and on the other, help the animal cope with inevitable and not always pleasant events. To do this, special classes are regularly conducted with tapir, during which the animal "gets" a treat from the keeper, performing not complicated, but necessary for care actions. For example, the animal was taught that in order to get a grape, he needs to touch his nose with a special object - the target. The target is a plastic pin. Thanks to such a training, a keeper can carry an animal through an aviary for half a mask of grapes, lead it into a neighboring cage, and even transfer it across the road from a winter aviary to a summer one and back. Previously, this procedure cost everyone a lot of energy, nerves and time.

Old age also requires serious attention to the animal’s health: veterinary examination, weight monitoring, monitoring hooves and, if necessary, treatment. In order for the tapir to allow all these manipulations to be carried out, and most importantly, so that they do not cause him stress, a special training is also conducted. The animal is trained to go on the scales, to inspect the legs, to allow to handle the hooves, if necessary.

As a result of the training, the tapir became calmer in all of these procedures, and his life became more active and eventful.