Baird's Tapir

baird's tapir
Baird's Tapir
Kevin Schafer/Corbis

As with other tapirs, the short trunk of the Baird's tapir is composed of nose and upper lip. The tapir uses its trunk to pick up grasses, leaves, and fruit and carry them to the mouth.

This elusive creature is an important seed disseminator because it prefers to spit out fruit seeds rather than eat them along with the flesh.


Although it spends most of its time in the water or lying in the mud, the tapir can move quickly and is an excellent swimmer.

The Baird's tapir is easy to track because it often follows previously used paths and it leaves distinctive three-toed tracks (each toe has a broad hoof).

The species was heavily hunted for sport, its meat, and its hide; today it is also threatened by deforestation for agriculture and logging.


Animal Facts

Name: Baird's Tapir (Tapirus bairdii)

Family: Tapiridae (Tapirs)


Range: Southern Mexico to northern Colombia

Habitat: Tropical forests, often near streams

Diet: Aquatic vegetation, buds, leaves, shoots and fallen fruit

Head and Body Length: 6.5 to 8 feet (2 to 2.4 m)

Tail Length: 3 to 5 inches (7 to 13 cm)

Shoulder Height: 36 to 47 inches (91 to 120 cm)

Weight: 551 to 661 pounds (250 to 300 kg)

Life Cycle: Mating year-round; gestation 390 to 405 days, one calf (rarely two) born

Description: Dark brown, short, bristly hair; gray-yellow cheeks and throat; white-edged, oval ears; long, narrow mane; small, muscular trunk; short, powerful legs; short, thick tail

Conservation Status: Endangered

Major Threat(s): Habitat loss and degradation; hunting

What Can I Do?: Visit the Tapir Preservation Fund for information on how you can help.

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