Tapir Conservation

2017 Successes:

  • Found a total of 53 tapirs, including 28 new individuals that had never been seen before
  • Launched environmental education curriculum called TAPIR TRACKS for use in schools
  • Interviewed 50 members of the local community to gauge how they feel towards tapirs and view interactions with them

The Baird’s tapir at the Houston Zoo are ambassadors for their wild counterparts in South America. The Houston Zoo supports the protection of this endangered species in Central America as well as the Lowland tapir in Brazil through a partnership with the IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group to support field research in Brazil’s Pantanal region. Since the inception of this partnership, 57 tapirs have received tracking collars to help the group understand this elusive animals’ range.

Protecting Tapirs in the Wild

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 Pantanal region. 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.


How the Zoo is helping tapirs in the wild:

  • We assist with research and protection efforts to save tapirs in the wild.
  • We provide funding for much needed equipment for monitoring tapirs in the wild.
  • We have staff travel to Panama to assist with field research.
  • We assist with tapir awareness events in Panama.
  • We support field research in Brazil’s Pantanal region.
  • We manage the Tapir Specialist Group website

Donate now to help tapirs in the wild:

What can you do to help tapirs in the wild: 


Every time you visit the Houston Zoo, you help save animals in the wild.