Alma Park Zoo have announced the arrival of a very unique animal – Alf, the Brazilian Tapir. Tapirs are an ancient and unusual member of the hoofstock family, most closely related to horses and rhinoceroses, but having several features more reminiscent of elephants or hippopotamus.

These large solitary mammals are native to the tropics of South America.  One species in Asia is semi-aquatic.

Found near water sources, the Tapir is a strong swimmer, using its short elephant-like trunk to feed on vegetation in trees and under water, and also as a snorkel.


Tapirs are endangered by extensive habitat loss and are being hunted for their skin and meat.


Alma Park Zoo Curator Dr Heather Hesterman said that the Zoo’s Tapir, affectionately known as “Alf” (after the 80′s Sci Fi TV sitcom character) had quickly become a favourite.

He is a gentle giant, that loves being scratched, and sits like a dog as well as rolls over to have his belly rubbed.

His favourite treat foods include watermelon, red apples and corn on the cob.   Alf is enjoying the Queensland climate spending lots of time playing in his large pond.

Dr Hesterman said that having a Brazilian Tapir was a wonderful opportunity to educate the public about conservation of a very interesting or lesser-known species.