In this manuscript, as a starting point, the ancient and current distribution of the genus Tapirus are summarized, from its origins, apparently in Europe, to current ranges. Subsequently, original and current tapir habitats are described, as well as changes in ancient habitats. As the manuscript goes on, we examine the ways in which tapir species interact with their habitats and the main aspects of habitat use, spatial ecology and adaptability. Having reviewed the historic and current distribution of tapirs, as well as their use and selection of habitats, we introduce the concept of adaptability, considering that some of the tapir physiological characteristics and behavioral strategies can reduce the negative impact of habitat alteration and climate change. Finally, we provide recommendations for future research priorities. The conservation community is still missing important pieces of information for the effective conservation of tapirs and their remaining habitats in Central and South America and Southeast Asia. Reconstructing how tapir species reached their current distribution ranges, interpreting how they interact with their habitats and gathering information regarding the strategies they use to cope with habitat changes will increase our understanding about these animals and contribute to the development of conservation strategies.