Skip to main content

Malayan tapir

Did you know?

Tapirus indicus

Tapirs may look quiet, but they make a lot of noise! When excited (especially by another tapir) they make sneezing hiccups, high-pitched squeals and ear-piercing whistles.

Discover Tapirs

Habitat
Wild and Zoo
Around 6-8 feet long and 3 feet tall, Malayan tapirs live in the dense tropical rainforests of southern Burma, Malay Peninsula, southeast Thailand and Sumatra. Find them in the Asian Forest Sanctuary.
Asian Forest Sanctuary
Meet the keepers
(Hear tapir tales.)
Keepers in our Asian Forest Sanctuary give unscheduled talks daily. Ask questions about each animal, and find out how our zoo team feeds and cares for them.

Meet our tapirs

Baku
Yuna
Kazu
Eating
(and predators!)
Tapirs are herbivores: they eat tender leaves, shoots and fruit from various plants.
Their main predators are humans, who hunt them for meat, and tigers.
Born dotty
to blend in.
After a 13-14 month gestation period, females give birth to a single calf.
A tapir calf is born with extra rows of white dots (like a watermelon) to help it blend with its surroundings.
Climbing, galloping
and a snorkel nose.
Tapirs are mostly nocturnal and often solitary, though they sometimes live in pairs. They are good climbers, runners and swimmers.
Long and flexible, a tapir's nose is used for grabbing leaves while foraging, and even as a snorkel while swimming!

Protecting tapirs

Losing their home.

THE THREAT: These rare mammals are living fossils – they’ve been around since the Eocene age, superbly adapted for forest survival. Now, however, they are endangered. Their forest is disappearing, thanks to human roads, farms and logging. They’re also poached for their meat.

TAKE ACTION: Much of southeast Asia’s rainforest destruction is to make room for palm oil plantations. Check products you use for sustainable palm oil, and encourage companies to make the switch. Send a letter, email or tweet, and download a Palm Oil Shopping App.

Jungle Stories

Elephant Yoga and Apple Slices

Shannon Smith stands outside on a fall day, calling out encouragement. “Foot!” she requests. Across the yard, her “buddy” of 24 years slowly lifts a leg, then puts it back down. “Good!” exclaims Smith, and offers an apple slice. It’s exercise time at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and Smith is leading Suki the elderly … Continued

Read More
Cho Cho, Still the Oldest Siamang

How does it feel to be the oldest siamang? Well, for Cho Cho, snuggled up with his companion Dudlee on a crisp fall morning at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, it seemed pretty cozy. This year Cho Cho is celebrating his 54th birthday – which makes him the oldest siamang on record in human care … Continued

Read More
Clouded Leopard Conservation

Clouded leopards are endangered. Their tropical forests are being cut down for logging, human habitat and to grow palm oil, a common food product. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium plays a huge role in the conservation of clouded leopards in the wild. The Zoo is part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) that keeps zoo … Continued

Read More
Who's Nearby?
Visiting our tapirs? Then try to spot our anoa! A similar size, anoa are actually a species of buffalo, with sharp horns. Ours rotates like the tapirs around our Asian Forest Sanctuary habitats.