Weird animal of the week

Tapirs look something like pigs with trunks, but they are actually related to horses and rhinoceroses.

This eclectic lineage is an ancient one - and so is the tapir itself.

Tapirs have a short prehensile (gripping) trunk, which is really an extended nose and upper lip. They use this trunk to grab branches and clean them of leaves or to help pluck tasty fruit.

Tapirs feed each morning and evening, and during these hours, they follow tunnel-like paths, worn through the heavy brush by many a tapir footstep, to reach water holes and lush feeding grounds. 

As they roam and defecate they deposit the seeds they have consumed and promote future plant growth!

Though they appear densely built, tapirs are at home in the water and often submerge to cool off. They are in fact excellent swimmers, and can even dive to feed on aquatic plants. 

They also wallow in mud, perhaps to remove pesky ticks from their thick hides!