In honor of World Tapir Day, here are five fun facts about tapirs. We find these unique animals fascinating, and we think you will too.
1. Even though tapirs look like pigs, as odd-toed ungulates, their closest living relatives include zebras and rhinos.
2. ‘Tapir’ comes from an indigenous Brazilian language and means ‘thick,’ referencing their very tough hides.
3. Tapirs love the water! They like to just swim or soak, going deep below the surface and letting fish pick insects off their skin. They’ll even mate in the water, using their noses like snorkels.
4. Speaking of those noses- did you know that a tapir’s nose is prehensile, or capable of grasping? It can be used to grab branches and fruit, or strip tasty leaves off a tree trunk. Think of it as a mini elephant trunk, doing many of the same things, but much shorter.
5. Fossil tapirs have been found on every continent except Antarctica. Modern tapirs and ancient tapirs didn’t actually look too different, leading some to call the current four species living fossils.
We invite you to check out former WCN guest speaker Patrícia Medici’s TED Talk on tapirs, and to celebrate Tapir Day on April 27th!