Ten Things You Might Not Know About the Tapir

Ten Things You Might Not Know About the Tapir

April 27, 2020

Happy World Tapir Day! Did you know that tapir products are among our bestsellers at Destination GOOD - from comfy pillows to quirky postcards? 

Celebrate the uniqueness of this amazing animal that has not only won the hearts of many of our shoppers, but is also gaining the attention of the wider public because of increased environmental awareness, and enhanced conservation efforts.

Here are some fun facts about our beloved tapir:

1. The Malayan tapir is a true hybrid with a flexible snout like an elephant trunk, ears like a horse, legs like a hippo, and black and white colour like a panda. It is one of only four tapir species around the globe, and it is the largest among all of them - the Mountain tapir, Brazilian tapir and Baird tapir. It is also the only type of Tapir that has black and white markings across its torso.  These markings help them camouflage into the forest, so that predators may mistake them for a large rock rather than prey. 

2. The Malayan Tapir has very poor eyesight and they make up for it with their highly developed sense of smell.

3. They have four toes on their front feet and three toes on their hind feet, with which they can run very fast for short bursts of speed through the forest.

4. A tapir’s most notable feature is its unique prehensile nose. Not only can they wiggle it, but they can use it to grab leaves when foraging. When swimming, they can use it as a snorkel. They are fast and agile swimmers.

5. This animal is very shy in nature hence it makes them very hard to spot in the wild.

6. Young tapirs of all species have brown hair with white stripes and spots that look like an elongated watermelon, a pattern that enables them to hide effectively in the dappled light of the forest. This baby coat will then fade into the black and white adult colouration between three and five months after birth.

7. Tapirs don’t reproduce rapidly like some mammalsThe gestation period of a tapir is about 13 months and they only give birth to one offspring at a time. The young live with their mothers up to 18 months.

8. An adult tapir eats up to 3 kilograms of leaves a day.


9. There are only slightly over two thousand Malayan tapirs left in Malaysia.

10. The Malayan Tapir is in serious risk of extinction because of habitat loss due to deforestation. Another threat to the Malayan tapir population is road accidents as major highways are being built across their habitats. 

Tapirs are on the brink of extinction, but we can do something about it. Each purchase from Malaysian Unity of Cultures allows you to contribute to the enhancement of tapir conservation efforts and protect it from the threat of extinction.


You may also learn more and spread the word about tapirs through books from Oyez! Books and the Centre for Orang Asli Concerns.