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Tapir Breaks Out of Zoo, Gets Stuck in Palace Pond

The heavy, trunk-nosed animal squirmed and wiggled, making the rescue a difficult one.

A tapir escaped from a conservation center at an Indonesian zoo and needed a little help from rescuers when it fell into a nearby palace pond and became trapped.

The female tapir was surrounded by rescuers, who used ropes to make a harness around the animal. The tapir struggled against the rescuers, wiggling its trunk and body and trying to sink further into the water.

The rescuers were eventually able to pull the tapir out of the water and push it into a cage, where it was given leaves to eat and transported back to the West Sumatra Conservation and Resource Center at the Museum of Wildlife and Culture Zoo Bukittinggi in the bed of a pickup truck. Zoo veterinarians examined the tapir, which was weak and had blisters on its body, legs, and back.

Tapirs are ancient relatives of horses and rhinoceroses, and scientists believe they have not changed much over tens of millions of years. They can grip things with their trunks, they can weigh up to 800 pounds, and males have evolved to be surprisingly well-endowed so they can successfully mate with females.

Like the one in the video above, tapirs feel at home in the water, using it to cool off and to dive for aquatic plants. They will also spend time in the mud, possibly to remove ticks and other insects from their skin.

The tapir will be released back into its habitat after one to two months of recovery from its adventure.