Tuberculosis is a chronic infection caused by strains of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex and occurs in both animal and human populations. The death of a tapir showing purulent material and a hard mass in the lungs at necropsy raised suspicion of a potential disease caused by mycobacteria species in a Brazilian zoo. Later, two other tapirs with similar signs died and were further investigated. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) from bronco-alveolar lavages was performed, and both animals tested positive for the RD(Rio) strain of M. tuberculosis, which is a recently discovered Latin American-Mediterranean sublineage and the main cause of human tuberculosis in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. To investigate the possibility of human infection and the source of transmission, all 50 zoo employees underwent tuberculin skin testing; four were reactive, but radiographic exams and direct sample staining did not suggest tuberculosis. Thus, direct human to animal transmission was not proven. However, the presence of RD(Rio) M. tuberculosis in tapirs highlights the lack of attention to diseases that human beings may transmit to wildlife.