Sunday, July 08, 2007

A & S Animal of the day:

Although tapirs are often mistaken for pigs and anteaters, they're in the odd-toed hooved animal family (perissodactyls), as are the horse and rhinocerous. All four species of tapir are endangered. The Malay tapir (shown below) is native to Asia, where its natural enemies are the tiger and man. The largest tapir, the Malay tapir weighs up to 800 pounds. It also has the most dramatic coloration, with black shoulders, head, and legs and a white band around the body. The Mountain, Baird and Brazilian tapirs are native to South America, and all are solid black or black- brown. All baby tapirs have light colored, horizontal, watermelon like stripes, but these disappear by adulthood.

If you see a tapir lounging on a hot day, you might think it is slothful. However, in motion, tapirs are fast and agile, and they also swim well. Tapirs in captivity sometimes have violent tantrums: a Malay tapir severed the arm of a keeper at the Oklahoma City Zoo in 1998.

My wife's favorite animal at the zoo.


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