The 27th of April is World Tapir Day, which aims to promote the awareness and conservation of tapirs. Tapirs are my absolute most favourite animal in the world. I adore them.

They are incredibly unique animals. According to Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, they are 34 million years old as a species, and even though they look like a strange cross between an elephant and a pig, their closest relatives are modern horses and rhinoceroses. They are sub-aquatic, even though they look like the least likely swimmers in the world, and incredibly strong and fast when they need to be.

They’re always intrigued me, but I fell in love with them a few years ago at London Zoo. It was late in the day and very cold, and I popped my head into the tapir house just to see if I could see one (I’m one of those people who gets upset if I can’t find every single animal in their exhibit, even though I may not like them terribly much). I stood there and heard a soft shuffling, and this beautiful animal padded towards me, his little prehensile nose sniffing the air, regarding me with as much curiosity and wonder as I did him. And I’ve loved tapirs to this day. I have an amazing shot of a Brazilian tapir above my desk, taken as part of an endangered wildlife series.

Here’s some super cute photos:

 

This is a baby Brazilian tapir, but all tapir babies have these cool markings.

 

This is an adult Malayan tapir. Malayan tapirs are my favourite. I went to Taronga Zoo last year and I was devastated when their Malayan tapir was off display that day!

 

I couldn’t resist.

 

Anyway, I hope you look out for these awesome creatures next time you’re at your local zoo or animal park. They’re beautiful to watch. And hopefully one day, we can travel to South America or south-east Asia and see them in the wild for ourselves.

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