Spots and stripes: baby tapir

All tapir calves have spots and stripes. These markings help them blend into their surroundings so predators won’t catch them easily. It also makes them gorgeous!


This bold fashion statement is the biggest challenge when needle felting these little ones. Here I’ll show you what this baby tapir looked like before the patterns were added.


A little strange and naked looking, isn’t it? Let’s get those fancy duds on!



Much better! The time and effort to make those spots and stripes was completely worth while.


These wonderful animals are endangered and vulnerable. For any new orders I receive for needle felting tapirs, I will donate a third to the Tapir Specialist Group who will use the funds to help protect and study tapirs all over the world.

Baby tapir

I got another baby tapir commission. I LOVE making these little guys. They are so cute and each time I get to refine and distill the cuteness for overload…



This is the best one I’ve made yet! I’m very proud of not only the shape, proportion of leg to body and head size, but also the brown and black balance underlying the white spots and stripes. I mixed the brown roving (wool) with the black to get a nice dark brown and then really focused on getting the lighter brown on the cheeks.


There is a cost, however. Those dang spots really took forever! I thought my fingers would fall off! I had to redo one of the ears because the white spot on it was turning the black gray. It’s all about balance and finding the magic point at which the black is thick enough to sustain a white spot poking into it but thin enough to be a flexible little ear…

It’s a challenge. But one I delight in!

This little one now makes his home in Half Moon Bay, California with his lovely new owner.

Tapir mother and calf

A while back I was commissioned to make another mother and calf Malayan tapir pair. I love making these. The majestic shape of the mother is hard to capture in my felting somehow… I think it might be the unusual tapir face and how it flows into the neck and shoulders. The patterns on the baby are definitely a challenge too, but one I delight in taking on!

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I love these animals. The long mobile nose is the cutest! Have you ever heard a tapir chirp? This is what it sounds like. Did you know they have three toes on their back feet, but four on the front feet? There are a couple different varieties of tapirs, including the Mountain Tapir, which has long fur — such a fuzzy guy! One of my goals in life is to needle felt all species of tapir.