Logo of nature.ca - Canadian Museum of Nature.
Logo of Natural History Notebooks.
Button: Home. Button: Resources. Button: Notebooks A-Z.
Button: Français.
Home > Mammals > Malayan Tapir Next
Text: Mammals.
Malayan Tapir
Photo: Malayan Tapir, Tapirus indicus.
Malayan tapir, Tapirus indicus
More Images »

Where are they found? AsiaNorth AmericaSouth America

Map of the world.

There are four species of tapir; three species are found in Central and South America, and one inhabits Southeast Asia. At one time it was thought that tapirs are related to pigs, but now scientists know they are related to horses and rhinoceroses. Tapirs can weigh up to 300 kg (660 lb.).

The Malayan tapir is the largest among the species and is distinguished by its unusual coloration: the rear half of the body above the legs is white. The rest is black. The three other tapir species are dark to reddish brown above and paler underneath. All young tapirs are born with a pattern of paler dots and stripes on a brown background which makes them appear, in the words of one zoologist, like 'watermelons with legs'. As they get older, these markings gradually fade away and are replaced by the permanent colours.

Shy and solitary by nature, tapirs are often hunted for their tough hide. In some parts of Asia tapir meat is sold in the shops, although it is said to be less than tasty and it has a high fat content.

The New World species are headed toward extinction as the advance of civilization destroys their environment and as people hunt them, sometimes just for sport. The Malayan tapir is classed as vulnerable.

More Images

Looking for photos?

The Canadian Museum of Nature has thousands of unique images reflecting the diversity of the natural world—including the photos and illustrations here in our Natural History NotebooksContact us to learn more!

To cite this page for personal use:
“Malayan Tapir”. [Online]. Natural History Notebooks. Canadian Museum of Nature.
Last updated (Web site consulted

Button: Mammals. Photo: Lion (Panthera leo). Button: Birds. Photo: Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos).
Button: Fish. Photo: Brown trout (Salmo trutta). Button: Reptiles. Photo: Komodo dragon (Varanus komodensis).
Button: Amphibians. Photo: Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeiana). Button: Invertebrates. Photo: House fly (Musca domestica).
Button: Dinosaurs. Illustration: Tyrannosaurus rex. Archive slide: S71-116. Button: Prehistoric. Illustration: Muskox (Ovibos moschatus).
Button: Navigate the World. Illustration: Map of the world.

Reproduction Rights    Credits    Explore Nature!    Comments or Questions?

Next Previous Next Previous