Welcome back, Malayan Tapir!

Photo courtesy of Ed Diebold, Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden's newest resident is a little snooty -- and she "nose" it! Columbia, SC's zoo welcomes back the Malayan tapir, an original member of the Zoo's animal collection when the park opened.


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With their flexible, elongated snouts, Malayan tapirs are sometimes mistaken for pigs or anteaters, but these extraordinary creatures are most closely related to horses and rhinos. Besides their protruding trunk, another eye-catching characteristic is the light-colored patch of hair that extends from the animal's shoulders to its rear on its otherwise dark body.

Daniella, 16, came to Riverbanks from the Bronx Zoo, her home since the age of one. She was born at Zoo Miami in July of 1996. 

Of the four species of tapir, Malayans are the largest and most powerful'many weighing more than 700 pounds. Riverbanks has also been home to Baird's tapirs. The other two species are Brazilian and mountain tapirs, all of which inhabit jungle and forest regions of Central America, South America and Southeast Asia.

Tapirs spend much of their time in the wild looking for food, eating a variety of fruits and plants. In addition, tapirs are gifted swimmers; and although commonly found in wooded areas, those with access to rivers are likely to be in the water feeding on vegetation, hiding from predators or just cooling off. 


Photo courtesy of Ed Diebold, Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

Did you know? Tapirs communicate with a high-pitched whistle that almost sounds like screeching car breaks, says John Davis, curator of mammals at the zoo. Another type of tapir talk is snorting and stomping'typical actions when the animals are preparing to defend themselves.

On average, tapirs live to be 25 to 30 years old. Tapir populations in the wild, however, are decreasing mainly due to hunting and habitat destruction. All tapir species are now considered either endangered or vulnerable.

Daniella can be seen on exhibit daily near the Zoo's Galapagos tortoise yard.


Riverbanks Zoo & Garden is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission to both the Zoo and Garden is $11.75 for adults, $9.25 for children ages 3 ' 12 and free for children 2 and under. Group rates and other discounts may apply. Year-round membership packages are also available. For more information, call Riverbanks at 803.779.8717 or visit riverbanks.org. Keep up with Riverbanks Zoo & Garden on Facebook.