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There are four living species of tapir; three in Latin America: Baird’s, Lowland, and Mountain and the Malayan Tapir of Southeast Asia. All of these are classified as either vulnerable or endangered. These animals play a critical role in shaping and maintaining the biological diversity of tropical ecosystems. Because of their size and sensitivity to changes in their environment, they are among the first species in a habitat to be affected by human disturbance.
The Houston Zoo has partnered with the IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group in supporting field research on the ecology of the world’s threatened tapir species, genus Tapirus. We work closely with Patricia Medici, this group’s Chair, in supporting a Lowland Tapir Project in Brazil’s Morro de Diabo State Park. The goal is to help researchers determine the influence of large herbivores on neotropical forests. This data will allow biologists to quantify the influence that large herbivores like tapirs have on forest structure and species diversity, and ultimately help them develop management plans that are designed to prevent the disappearance of these animals.
Donate now to help tapirs in the wild: