We are very fortunate here at Dartmoor Zoo to house two of the friendliest Tapir you will ever come across! Fortuna and Rofilho.
Fortuana, fondly known as Chana, is a female tapir. She was born on 13th October 2006. Whilst living here she has had 3 sons! Lutador, Maninho, and Rofilho. Luta and Mani moved on when they became fully grown, but Rofilho, who was born on 4th April 2015 is currently still with her.
Rofilho was a wonderful legacy for us all at the Zoo when he was born. His father passed away the previous Easter but due to the 13 month gestation period, we hoped he may have left something behind, and he had! His name is a mix of Roger, which was his father’s name, and filho, which means son in Portuguese, the language spoken in Brazil.
They love enrichment, bananas and nothing makes them grin like a tummy rub, as you will see from the video below where CEO Benjamin Mee tries to do some filming alongside these inquisitive and mischievous creatures!
Tapir live in the rainforests of South America and are actually related to rhinos. They have barrel shaped bodies, stout limbs and pig-like heads with long, fleshy, prehensile noses. This means that they are adapted for grasping or holding.
Their hair is tough, sparse, and dark brown, and a bristly mane of hair on their neck which is extremely thick as protection against Jaguars. Newborn tapirs have stripes which fade as they grow older as you can see in the picture above of Rofilho just after he was born. These are to help keep them camouflaged. They are as happy in water as they are on the forest floor and are great swimmers and divers. They are mainly active at night with acute hearing and sense of smell. They are very important as plant seed dispersers, as they eat tremendous amounts of them and many actually germinate in their faeces. They also like to eat leaves and twigs, shoots and grasses, fruit and aquatic plants.
Tapirs can live for between 15 and 20 years in the wild, and up to 30 in Zoos. Sadly they are classed as vulnerable, although many actually class them as endangered due to dwindling habitats and poaching for meat and hide. Predator wise their main threat is the Jaguar. To fight them off they have evolved to have a very thick ridge of skin on the back of their necks and will run to water to try and drag the jaguar under. if attacked