The tapir is an unusual animal that resembles a pig with a short, prehensile trunk. It is closely related to horses and rhinoceroses and uses water as a sanctuary, according to National Geographic.Continue Reading
One of the most unique characteristics of the tapir is its nose, which is shaped like a short trunk. This trunk is prehensile, which means it is used for gripping and is especially useful when browsing for food on tree branches. The tapir grips a tree limb with its trunk and strips off the leaves or plucks off fruit. Fruit and leaves are a tapir's main food source, and it benefits plants by releasing seeds to the ground through its feces.
The tapir looks large and unwieldy, but it is a graceful swimmer. It uses water as a sanctuary against predators. It also uses it as a way to cool off and as a portal to a buffet of sea plants. In fact, it inhabits areas with water sources such as swamps and rain forests. Tapirs range throughout Central America, South America, Asia and southern parts of North America. Fossils show that this animal has lived on every continent in the world. Over the millions of years of its existence, it has changed very little. However, habitat loss and hunting has placed tapirs on the endangered species list.Learn more about Mammals