Tiquie Typifies Tapirs on World Tapir Day 27 April 2010
Tuesday 27th April 2010

Blog by Renae, Taronga Tapir Keepers.

World Tapir Day is a great time to see one of the world's most elusive creatures.

Ordinarily they're really hard to see in the wild but here in the Zoo they're actually one of the animals that enjoys interactions with keepers the most.

Our Brazilian Tapir, Tiquie, just loves a belly scratch, plonking herself down on the ground and even going to sleep.

This behaviour is quite unusual because it is one that we did not train, and it wouldn't be much help to them in the wild.

At first glance you would not be able to tell that tapirs are related to Rhinos and the horses, because that  have a little trunk, which they use to pluck leaves of trees.

Their calves are very cute, looking like a little water melons except their coat patterns are in black and white, instead of green.

We actually called our last Malayan Tapir calf, Semanka, which meant 'water melon' in Malay.

Tapirs spend a lot of the time in the water and generally only defecate there.

We don't exactly know why they do this is but it could be that it makes it hard for predators to track them by their droppings.

In the wild both Brazilian and Malayan Tapir are threatened by deforestation, loss of habitat and hunting.

I think they're incredible animals and Tiquie never fails to amaze me with the way she enjoys a hose in warmer weather, actually getting up on her hind legs and peddling towards the spray of water.

World Tapir Day website - http://www.tapirday.org/