The “stork” made a special delivery to the Lee Richardson Zoo Friday, March 21st with the birth of a male Bactrian camel. The silvery-grey calf was born around noon, and was a little slow to get to its feet but was searching for its first meal from mom before the day was through. Described as quite rambunctious by keeper Pablo Holguin, the baby stands 4 ½ to 5 feet tall, and weighed in at 125 pounds. This is the ninth calf for the eighteen-year old mother Mona and nineteen-year old father, Khan.
Mother and baby were temporarily separated from the male as a safety precaution, but have already been reunited in their yard in Wild Asia. Like other infants, the calf spends much time sleeping, however in unique camel fashion, it often assumes unusual positions when resting that might suggest something is amiss. Guests should be reassured such odd positions are normal for camels and the baby is just very flexible!
Bactrian camels are endangered, with only 600-900 estimated to be left in the wild in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. They are superbly adapted to the harsh extremes of desert life, tolerating temperatures from minus 16° F to 120° F. Their thick winter coat protects them from both cold and heat, but is generally shed in the summer. Thick eyelashes and closable nostrils protect them from blowing sand, while broad flat feet support them on soft sand. Bactrian camels stand seven feet tall at the hump, and weigh 1,000 to 1,800 pounds.
Contrary to popular belief, camels store fat, not water, in their humps. When food is scarce, energy stored in the humps is used, causing the hump to shrink and droop to one side. When food is available, the humps firm up again. Camels can go ten months without drinking water if green vegetation and dew are available.