Tapirs might be the biggest mammals you’ve never heard of. Once upon a time, I like to think, tapirs practically ruled the world – large, peaceful animals, roaming broad expanses of forest covering the Americas, Europes, and Asia, feasting on luscious fruits and greens, cleverly evading the predators of the time…this is how it happens in my own personal Land Before Time…
Tapirs are related to rhinos and horses, and there are four species alive in the world today – Malayan Tapirs, with striking Black-and-White coloring, found in southeast Asia; Mountain Tapirs, found in small ranges in the Andes; Brazilian Tapirs, found in the rain forests of South America; and Baird’s Tapirs, found throughout Central America.
Tapirs have been one of Chuck’s favorite animals for years, and we became more involved in tapir conservation in February 2007, when we visited Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica. There we had the amazing experience of seeing a Baird’s tapir in the wild while out on pre-dawn hike. While in Corcovado, we met Kendra Bauer, a doctoral candidate at UT-Austin who does research on the tapirs in the park. Shortly after our return from Costa Rica, Chuck helped Kendra setup SaveTapirs.org, a website devoted to the research and conservation of the Tapirs of Costa Rica.
This year, World Tapir Day has been established to raise awareness about tapirs, to educate people about these incredible but oft-overlooked animals and inspire support for conservation. If you want to learn more about tapirs or contribute to tapir research and conservation, visit one of these great sites:
What else can you do to celebrate World Tapir Day?
- Visit tapirs at a zoo near you! You can see Malayan Tapirs in San Diego; Baird’s tapirs in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco; Mountain Tapirs in Colorado Springs, Los Angeles, and San Francisco; and Brazilian tapirs in New Orleans and Chicago – and those are only the ones I know about! Check out your local zoo for more info.
- Get cool tapir gear (like my stylin’ red shirt!) from any of the sites above – the proceeds from your purchase will go toward conservation, AND you’ll help make other people more aware of tapirs, building even more conservation power!
- Learn about rain forest conservation and figure out what you can do to help save the tapir’s habitat.
Happy Tapir Day!