DSC_0126 The Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus), also called the Asian tapir, is the largest of the four species of tapir and the only one native to Asia. The scientific name refers to the East Indies, the species’ natural habitat.

The animal is easily identified by its markings, most notably the light-colored patch which extends from its shoulders to its rear end. The rest of its hair is black, except for the tips of its ears, which, as with other tapirs, are rimmed with white. This pattern is for camouflage; the disrupted coloration makes it more difficult to recognize it as a tapir, and other animals may mistake it for a large rock rather than prey when it is lying down to sleep.

Malayan tapirs have very poor eyesight, making them rely greatly on their excellent sense of smell and hearing to go about in their everyday lives. They have small, beady eyes with brown irises on either side of their faces. Their eyes are often covered in a blue haze, which is corneal cloudiness thought to be caused by repetitive exposure to light. Corneal cloudiness is when the cornea starts to lose its transparency. The cornea is necessary for the transmitting and focusing of outside light as it enters the eye, and cloudiness can cause vision loss. This causes the Malayan tapir to have very inadequate vision, both on land and in water, where they spend the majority of their time. Also, as these tapirs are most active at night and since they have poor eyesight, it is harder for them to search for food and avoid predators in the dark.

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The Malayan tapir was once found throughout the tropical lowland rainforests of Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, and Vietnam. However, its numbers have decreased in recent years, and today, like all tapirs, it is in danger of extinction.[1] Because of their size, tapirs have few natural predators, and even reports of killings by tigers are scarce. The main threat to the Malayan tapirs is human activity, including deforestation for agricultural purposes, flooding caused by the damming of rivers for hydroelectric projects, and illegal trade. In Thailand, for instance, capture and sale of a young tapir may be worth US$5500.00.

Malayan Tapir at the Bowmanville Zoo

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Talia is the Malayan Tapir at the Bowmanville Zoo. She is a real sweetheart and a favorite of anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting her. Talia can be seen swimming or wandering her enclosure everyday. Some times you can even hear a high pitched squeek from her when she’s playing.

Talia loves a good belly rub and will fall asleep when her keepers are showing her this affection.

Monkey biscuits suitable for feeding many of the zoos animals including the Malayan Tapir and are available at the entrance and cost $2 per bag.

Never feed any of the zoo animals food that has not been provided by zoo staff. You could make them very sick.