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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cute Spotlight: Malayan Tapir

The Malayan Tapir is a little-known mammal, native to the rain forests of Southeast Asia. Despite appearances, tapirs are most closely related to the rhinoceros and horse. The young typically are decorated with stripes and spots, as pictured, and grow to have a simpler, black and white block pattern as adults. Aside from the coloration, the transition to adulthood also brings massive bulk. A full-grown tapir can weigh up to 1100 pounds.

Though they are vegetarians, tapirs are voracious eaters--primarily eating leaves, berries, and other fruits. They spend most of their time wallowing in pools or mud pits and have thus become adept swimmers. They are also excellent at smelling and hearing; their senses heightened because of their poor eyesight.

The average tapir lives to be approximately thirty years old. Of this, an average of 400 days is spent pregnant with each calf. In addition to the reasons mentioned below, the long gestation time for a singular tapir calf is partially to blame for their waning populations.

The Malayan Tapir, along with all over types of tapir, is currently considered endangered. The main threat to tapirs is, per usual, humans. Tapirs' habitats are being used for farming and they are occasionally hunted for sport. Organizations such as the Tapir Specialists Group conduct tapir research and conservation efforts around the world, breeding tapirs in captivity and providing refuge for displaced tapirs.