Lowland tapirs

Lowland tapir

Tapirus terrestris

IUCN status
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Lowland tapir

« The tapir loves to submerge itself and walk along the bottom of swamps and rivers »

Like a tapir in water

With its robust physique it does not seem as though it is destined to swim, and yet…

Is that a snorkel moving around the surface of the tapirs’ pool? Watch it a little more closely and you will see that it is in fact a tapir… or rather, the trunk of a tapir! The lowland tapir or Brazilian tapir can be recognised by the small flexible trunk at the end of its snout. It is used to catch food (fruit, leaves, aquatic plants etc.) and to breathe when the tapir is walking underwater. This is because the tapir loves to submerge itself and walk along the bottom of swamps and rivers. It is an excellent swimmer and will readily hide in the water when in danger.

Lowland tapirs

Did you know?

Medical training

Training with lowland tapirs

In order to perform non-surgical medical treatments or procedures, the keepers train the lowland tapirs to be manoeuvred and touched without fear. A relationship built on trust and patience is the key to successful medical training!

Beauval Nature save the Pantanal tapirs

The Beauval Nature association supports the Brazilian IPE Institute for Ecological Research’s conservation programme which works towards the protection of tapirs in the marshland region of the Pantanal, in central-west Brazil. 

The aim of the programme is to assess the distribution of the species, their health status, and the possibility of creating a protected area. For this, the IPE fits the animals with radio-collars in order to follow their movements, and to determine their habits and social organisation.

Lowland tapir


Originally from Zurich zoo in Switzerland, Florales is a mother who has proven to be very attentive to her young. 

Lowland tapir
Lowland tapir
Lowland tapir
Lowland tapir
Beauval Nature

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Learn more about the species

  • Diet
  • Gestation period
    13 months
  • Litter size
    1 to 2 young
  • Habitat
    Tropical forests

A long reproductive cycle

Lowland tapirs give birth to a maximum of 1 baby every 2 years! Their long gestation period does lend itself to quick renewal of the tapir population.

Secretive and territorial

The tapir is rather solitary in nature but searches for a partner during the mating season. It is a stealthy animal that prefers to stay under the cover of the forest during the day and sets off at night to feed on fruit and plants. It can be aggressive when faced with a rival during the breeding season, or when defending its territory.

A key role in the ecosystem

Tapirs ingest fruits and the precious seeds contained within. Their faeces are excellent fertilisers and act as a vehicle for the dissemination of seeds which is extremely beneficial for the entire ecosystem. Their highly mobile nature contributes to the dispersal of seeds over large areas, thus ensuring the renewal of fruit trees which are essential to the survival of many animals.

Where can I see them in the park?

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