Our National Animal: The Tapir

Fascinating animals’ tapirs are! They look something like pigs but they are actually related to horses and Rhinoceroses. Though, they are often referred to as the “mountain cow” here in Belize, the tapir is not a cow!


The tapir is the largest land mammal in Central America and is our national animal. Usually they flourish in forests and grasslands but given that they reproduce slower than other animals and are endangered, tapirs are protected by our government.

Other fun facts to know about tapirs in Belize:

  • They have a short prehensile gripping trunk which is really an extended nose and upper lip
  • They are herbivores and are considered “gardeners of the forest” or the “umbrella species”
  • Their babies are cute with stripes and spots that fade as they get older
  • The adult female is pregnant for over a year (approximately 13-14 months)
  • The adult is usually 6 ft in length and weighs between 300-600 pounds
  • Among the different species, the one that is common to Belize is the Baird’s Tapir
  • They live to approximately 21 years


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