Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Malayan Tapir

(Tapirus indicus)

Habitat and distribution: Found in dense tropical lowland rainforests of Southern Burma, Malay Peninsula, Southeast Thailand, and Sumatra.

Size: 6-8 feet long; 3-3.5 feet tall at the shoulder; 650-950 pounds; Females are larger than males.

Wild Diet: Tender leaves, shoots, and fruit from various plants

Predators: Humans and tigers

Lifespan: 20 years in the wild; 30 years in zoos

Reproduction: Malayan tapirs are ready to mate at about 3 years of age. Females typically give birth to a single offspring after a gestation of 13-14 months. Babies are born with extra rows of white dots that help them blend in with their surroundings.

Behavior:
Malayan tapirs are mostly nocturnal and often solitary, but have been found living in pairs. They are good climbers and can easily climb steep slopes. When scared or startled, they can gallop off with surprising speed. When excited, they squeal, spray urine, and emit ear-piercing whistles.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Endangered

Malayan tapir habitats are being destroyed by increased farming, logging, mining, and cattle grazing. They are also hunted for food in some areas.

Did you know?

  • Malayan tapirs can sink and walk along the bottom of lakes and ponds to escape predators.
  • When greeting each other, they make clicking sounds.
  • Their closest relatives are horses and rhinoceroses.