Please be advised that on April 25 at Franklin Park Zoo and April 26 at Stone Zoo, we will be conducting a routine animal escape drill. These drills are an important part of our preparedness training. While the drill is occurring, guests will be asked to move to certain areas within the Zoo for a brief period of time (not to exceed 10 minutes). We will do our best to have minimal impact on the guest experience. We are very dedicated to safety and we appreciate your participation. If you have any questions about what to expect, please do not hesitate to contact us at 617-989-2000 or


Baird's Tapir

Tapirus bairdii

The tapir baby is currently on exhibit Tues, Thurs., Sat. and Sun. from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Please note, schedule is subject to change as the baby continues to adjust to her new space.

About the Baird's Tapir


Geographic Range:


Class: Mammalia
Order: Perissodactyla
Family: Tapiridae
Genus: Tapirus
Species: bairdii

The Baird’s Tapir is the largest species of tapir. The tapir has a short tail and a long snout, which it uses like a snorkel to hide under water. Tapirs are named for W.M. Baird, an American naturalist who identified the animal while on a Mexican expedition in 1843.

Baird's Tapir Facts

Stocky with short legs and short bristly fur. Feet are splayed for moving on muddy ground. The tapir’s thick skin is dark brown to reddish brown in color, with a lighter throat and chest, short tail and long snout, and rounded ears with white edges. Babies are brown with white spots and stripes for camouflage.

Baird’s tapirs can reach a length of approximately 5 feet and weigh between 330 and 650 pounds.

In the wild, these herbivores eats leaves and fruits, twigs, small saplings, and aquatic vegetation. They browse under story vegetation, acting as seed dispersers.

Tapirs can breed at any time of year, but more commonly before the start of the rainy season.  Gestation is approximately 400 days with one young born at a time. Babies weigh 15 to 25 pounds at birth and gain about 1 pound per day during their first year. Mothers are very protective of their young. After about 10 days, a young tapir can follow its mother to forage. Maternal care extends for about one year, when offspring reach nearly 2/3 adult size.

Tapirs are primarily solitary creatures, with the exception of mothers’ protection of their young.  They are mostly nocturnal, particularly in areas where they’re hunted, but they can also be active during the day. Tapirs rest in temporary nests in the jungle or under water. They escape from predators by using their stocky bodies to crash directly through dense vegetation. Excellent swimmers, tapirs may also seek refuge under water. They will completely submerge themselves underwater with only their snout, which acts as a snorkel, protruding from the water. Tapirs also rely on water for feeding, cooling off and defecating.

Tapirs use whistle sounds to communicate.

These animals are found in humid habitats in Mexico, throughout Central America, and in the western side of the Andes Mountains in Columbia from sea level to 11,800 feet above sea level.  Baird’s tapirs can be found in habitats associated with water, including rainforests, swamps, mangroves, marshes, and flooded grasslands.

Median Life Expectancy:
19.5 years

Threats in Wild:
Young tapirs are preyed upon by jaguars and pumas. Habitat loss, and to a lesser degree, hunting by humans for food are the chief threats to the tapir's existence. Its low birth rate and long gestation period make it hard for populations to recover.

Fun Facts:

  • The national animal of Belize, nicknamed the “mountain cow.”
  • Largest of the three species of tapirs found in the Americas and is the largest land mammal found from Mexico to the southern tip of South America.
  • Related to odd toed ungulates like rhinoceros and horses.
  • Named by W.M. Baird, an American naturalist who identified it while on an expedition to Mexico in 1843. 

Committed to Conservation

We not only support conservation within our Zoo – we're passionate about using our resources to benefit wildlife across the globe. Along with a Zoo admission ticket, each guest receives “Quarters for Conservation” tokens at the admission booth. Your visit today supports the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative. This organization conducts research on tapir populations and looking at ways of conserving the habitat in which they live. Learn more.