Today is World Tapir Day and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was offering the opportunity to give tapirs scritches, so we visited there today. Cofan and Carlotta, the zoo’s Mountain Tapirs were looking in fine form and were eager for treats and scritches. I asked a keeper if she could explain why tapirs were important to save and she said, more eloquently than I am paraphrasing, that Mountain Tapirs are a very important distributor of seeds in their forest environment and are vital for a healthy ecosystem. Also, as charismatic animals Tapirs are important representatives for other animals who need protection in their shrinking habitat.
Cheyenne Mountain is only one of two zoos in the US that have Mountain Tapirs (I believe that the other one is the LA Zoo). You can also find three other species of Tapir in zoos around the US. Malayan Tapirs (Denver Zoo), Baird’s Tapirs (Brevard Zoo) , and Patagonian tapirs (World Wildlife Zoo), newly distinguished (2013) kabomani tapirs do not yet have a zoo presence that I know of.