Endangered Baird's Tapir Settles into New Home at San Francisco Zoo from New Orleans

Endangered Baird's Tapir Settles into New Home at San Francisco Zoo from New OrleansSource: SuperJew, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Nina Singh-Hudson
Published on November 09, 2023

Today, a two-year-old male Baird's tapir from New Orleans' Audubon Zoo was relocated to the San Francisco Zoo. The young tapir, an endangered species and the largest land mammal in the Americas, has been seen adapting to his new environment in the multi-species habitat, Puente al Sur (Bridge to the South).

Baird's tapirs are typically found in wetlands and forests, spanning from Mexico to South America. Threatened by habitat loss and hunting, the tapir's population is diminishing. The juvenile tapir's transfer to San Francisco was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan, launching him into the role of ambassador for his species, as outlined on the AZA's website.

The young Baird's tapir sports unique "watermelon on legs" markings, a feature observed by regularly visiting visitors to the San Francisco Zoo, which subtly fade with age. Tapirs, while sharing many characteristics with horses and rhinos, such as being odd-toed ungulates, differ greatly in their physical appearance and often times are not associated with the latter two animals. The tapirs regularly utilize their prehensile noses when foraging and display a strong affinity for swimming and water-oriented activities, as noted in the San Francisco Zoo's Facebook post.