Beastly Beat
J.J. & P.J. the Brazilian Tapirs

Anteater? Elephant? Pig? No, this animal is a close relative of horses and rhinos.

The Brazilian tapir, which is found in wooded, grassy habitats and jungles in South America, can weigh between three-hundred thirty and five-hundred fifty pounds, and reach a body length of 6.5 feet. The tapir's head extends into a short, fleshy trunk, which is actually a prolonged nose and upper lip that is combined into a flexible snout like an elephant's trunk. This enables them to reach and pull plant material into the mouth.

A tapir's small, deep-set eyes are protected from brush and thorns common in the tapir's habitat. This hoofed mammal also has stout legs that support its characteristic heavy body. Tapirs help their ecosystem by smashing down small trees and breaking branches to make trails, which aid other creatures in moving through the forest, too.

Tapirs are at home in the water. They are able swimmers and will take freely to water when pressed by predators like jaguars and crocodilians. These mammals are omnivorous, eating aquatic or low-growing forest vegetation and various fallen fruits and invertebrates as well as small mammals and birds.

J.J., the male Brazilian tapir, arrived at the Alexandria Zoo when he was a 200 pound five month old. J.J.'s companion, P.J. (born on May 19, 1994 at the Woodland Park Zoo), arrived at the Zoo in July 1995. The pair has had three babies together.

Like all tapirs, P.J. and J.J. love water and can often be seen in the pool in their exhibit.

Both P.J. & J.J. are located across from the Australian Walkabout.

Click here to learn more about Brazilian tapirs.