Check in with Cofan, 19-Year-Old Mountain Tapir

September 28, 2022

It’s time to check in on our mountain tapir, Cofan, as he lives out his golden years! In early 2021, Cofan underwent a life-saving surgery to remove his damaged left kidney. Since then, Cofan’s keepers have worked closely with him and given him extra love and scratches, which are his favorite rewards. Giving Cofan scratches puts him into a ‘tapir trance,’ allowing his care team to collect voluntary blood draws without any sedation. His post-surgery blood draw results have been encouraging and are a great way to keep tabs on his overall health.

Mountain tapir are very rare. Only six live in human care in the United States. Even though tapir look similar to anteaters or bears, they are actually closely related to rhinos and horses. Because tapir are so rare, but have the commonalities of horses, Cofan’s medical team refers to equine medicine and their own experience with tapir to give nearly 19-year-old Cofan the best care as he ages.

As Cofan gets older, enrichment is important for his health and quality of life in his golden years. Cofan loves eating lettuce, apples and fresh leaves from branches. Keepers will hang snacks from trees and bushes to encourage Cofan to problem solve and use his incredible nose. When he is not actively participating in enrichment, Cofan can often be found taking naps by his waterfall.

Mountain tapir, from the Andes Mountains in Colombia, Ecuador and northern Peru, are one of four species of tapir. Due to habitat loss, mountain tapir are endangered with approximately 2,500 left in the wild. CMZoo staff, thanks to support from Zoo members in our annual Member Conservation Vote, work diligently to save mountain tapir and their habitats south of the equator.

Easy-to-love Cofan helps his species by teaching us more about how to care for mountain tapir, and by inspiring countless visitors to learn about and protect wild tapir. You can visit Cofan living out his golden years across the road from Encounter Africa.

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