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Tapir, Mountain.jpg

The mountain tapir, also known as the Andean tapir or woolly tapir (Tapirus pinchaque) is the smallest of the four widely recognized species of tapir. It is the only one to live outside of tropical rainforests in the wild. It is most easily distinguished from other tapirs by its thick woolly coat and white lips. The species name comes from the term "La Pinchaque", an imaginary beast said to inhabit the same regions as the mountain tapir. They are black or very dark brown, with occasional pale hairs flecked in amongst the darker fur. The fur becomes noticeably paler on the underside, around the anal region, and on the cheeks. A distinct white band runs around the lips, although it may vary in extent, and there are usually also white bands along the upper surface of the ears. In adults, the rump has paired patches of bare skin, which may help to indicate sexual maturity. The eyes are initially blue, but change to a pale brown as the animal ages. Unlike all other species of tapir, the fur is long and woolly, especially on the underside and flanks, reaching 3.5 cm (1.4 in) or more in some individuals. Adults are usually around 1.8 m (5.9 ft) in length and 0.75 to 1 m (2.5 to 3.3 ft) in height at the shoulder. The mountain tapir is found in the cloud forests and páramo of the Eastern and Central Cordilleras mountains in Colombia, Ecuador, and the far north of Peru. Its range may once have extended as far as western Venezuela, but it has long been extirpated from that region. It commonly lives at elevations between 2,000 and 4,300 meters (6,600 and 14,100 ft), and since at this altitude temperatures routinely fall below freezing, the animal's woolly coat is essential. During the wet season, mountain tapirs tend to inhabit the forests of the Andes, while during the drier months, they move to the páramo, where fewer biting insects pester them.



See Also