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Riverbanks’ Malayan Tapir Match to Help Bolster the Endangered Population

For Immediate Release: December 5, 2017

Zoo Receives Male Tapir as Part of the AZA’s Species Survival Plan®

[Columbia, SC] — Riverbanks Zoo and Garden’s female Malayan tapir now has a new mate as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Malayan Tapir Species Survival Plan® (SSP).

For nearly 40 years, SSP programs have helped ensure the continued existence of endangered animals through breeding and transfer plans. 21-year-old Pulau came to Riverbanks from the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin, Texas as a companion to Riverbanks’ 21-year-old female, Daniella.

“Tapir populations in the wild are threatened and decreasing,” said John Davis, curator of mammals at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. “Without the conservation efforts of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums like Riverbanks, these animals would have a much greater risk of extinction.”

Hunting and habitat loss are the primary threats imperiling the wild tapir population. Malayan tapirs inhabit the lush rainforests of Southeast Asia.

Tapirs are mostly solitary animals and spend much of their time in the wild foraging for food such as fruits and plants. Although commonly found in wooded areas, tapirs also are gifted swimmers that enjoy access to rivers.

Malayan tapirs are the largest of all tapir species—many weighing more than 700 lbs. Because of their elongated snouts, these animals are sometimes mistaken for pigs or anteaters but are most closely related to horses and rhinos.

In addition to their protruding trunk, tapirs communicate with high-pitched whistles that resemble the sound of screeching car breaks. Another type of tapir talk is snorting and stomping—typical actions when the animals are preparing to defend themselves.