The Endangered Tapir
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The Endangered Tapir

The tapir is a large gentle herbivore that looks similar to a pig with a short prehensile snout.

The tapir is a large gentle herbivore that looks similar to a pig with a short prehensile snout. There are four different kinds of tapir, the Brazilian tapir, the Malayan tapir, the Baird’s tapir, and the Mountain tapir.  They can be found in the jungles of Central and South America, and also in the jungles of South-Eastern Asia. All four types of tapir are on the endangered species list.

While size does vary between the species, there are similarities that they all share. On average, the tapir will stand around 3 feet high, about 7 feet long, and weigh from 330 to 700 pounds. Their fur is short, and coloration ranges from a reddish-brown to a dark grey to nearly black. The only expectations are the Malayan tapir, which has a white saddle shape on its back, and the mountain tapir, which has a long woolly fur coat. Baby tapirs will have a black and brown stripped coloration on their fur until they are at least 3 years old. This coloration is used to camouflage the babies from predators. The lifespan of the tapir is around 25 to 30 years, in both the wild and in captivity. Tapirs usually live alone, only living together in mated pairs for a while and mothers with their young. Although tapirs are usually gentle timid creatures, mother tapirs can be aggressive when protecting their young; there has been a few people attacked by them.

They are browsing herbivores that use their prehensile snout to gather food. They can use their snouts much like elephants use their trunks; being able to grab and lift things with it. They feed on an assortment of berries, leaves, and fruit. Tapirs are usually nocturnal to avoid competition for food.

Tapirs have few predators, as they are large and tough, and will defend themselves against attack. They have a powerful bite that can break bones, thick hides that are difficult to penetrate and their size makes them too large for many animals to attack. Their dark fur also gives them good camouflage allowing them to hide from predators. Tapirs are hunted by jaguars, crocodiles, large snakes like anacondas and reticulated pythons, tigers, and humans.

Tapirs are endangered animals, and as is often the case, humans are directly responsible. Humans have over hunted tapirs, but even worse they have infringed so much of their habitat and have polluted the land so badly that they have caused these gentle creatures to walk the brink of extinction.

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