Tapir, mammal related to the horse and rhinoceros. There are three species in the Americas: Tapirus terrestris (Brazilian tapir), Tapir pinchaque (mountain tapir), and Tapir Bairdii (Baird's tapir). The tapir looks like a combination of its two closest relatives and a large pig: it is of short stature, with a heavy body, a thick neck, a prehensile upper lip forming a short, movable trunk, a short tail, and four toes on the front feet and three on the hind feet.
American tapirs, which have dark brown coats, were widely hunted by natives for their highly valued meat and their supposed supernatural healing powers. Their range is from Mexico to South America.
All are threatened with extinction due mainly to destruction of their sole habitat: tropical rain forests. All are legally protected.
Erwin Patzelt, Fauna del Ecuador (1989), pp. 89-91.
Luigi Boitani and Stefania Bartoli, Simon and Schuster's Guide to Mammals (1982), p. 345.
Francesco B. Salvatori, Rare Animals of the World (1990), pp. 90, 147.
Brooks, Daniel M.; Richard E. Bodmer; and Sharon Matola. Tapirs: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN, 1997.
Royte, Elizabeth. The Tapir's Morning Bath: Mysteries of the Tropical Rain Forest and the Scientists Who Are Trying to Solve Them. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001.
ta·pir / ˈtāpər/ • n. a nocturnal hoofed mammal (family Tapiridae, genus Tapirus) with a stout body, sturdy limbs, and a short flexible proboscis, native to the forests of tropical America and Malaysia. Four species include the reddish-brown or black mountain tapir (T. pinchaque), which is the smallest tapir.