Lowland Tapir Natural History
The lowland Tapir is one of the largest land animals living in South America (being beaten only by its close relative, the Baird’s Tapir). They weigh up to 320kg (710 lbs) and their length varies from 1.8 meters (5.9 ft) to 2.5 meters (8.2 ft) with males being slightly larger than females.
Habitat and Distribution
This species is always found around water in the region of the Amazon Rainforest and river basin.
25 to 30 years is not uncommon for this species, even in the wild.
Their prehensile snout helps this species to grip food items and manoeuvre them to their mouths, in a similar way to an elephant’s trunk. The majority of its herbivorous diet is made up of leaves, bud, fruit, grass, aquatic plants and small branches.
Groups and Breeding
The tapir mostly lives a solitary life, coming together to mate from April to June, after which the females will give birth to a single young thirteen months later. The young will stay with their mother for between 6-18 months.
The IUCN classes this species as vulnerable to extinction for the same reason as affects most of the species which live in the rainforests of America. In these areas poaching for meat and hides is rife, running hand in hand with the deforestation of their habitat.
Tapirs are surprisingly good swimmers and use their snout and as a snorkel when they’re under water.
The Lowland Tapirs During Your Day Out in Kent
At Wingham Wildlife Park we have three lowland tapirs, Nando, Kathleen and their baby born in September 2017, Matilda. During the summer their enclosure is opened up to the lake so that they can enjoy a swim if they wish to during those warmer months. As herbivores they are fed a variety of vegetables at the park including onions, carrots and parsnips.