Bactrian Camel Baby Takes Tentative Steps at Bramble Park Zoo
April 21, 2021
An endangered Bactrian Camel calf was born at the Bramble Park Zoo in Watertown, South Dakota on March 10. After a 13-month gestation period, The Zoo’s 16-year-old female Cindy Lou, gave birth to an unusually large baby. On average, camel calves weigh between 80 and 100 lbs. at birth. This hefty male, affectionately coined Token, weighed in at a whopping 124 lbs.
Due to his size he had a hard time standing after birth and therefore could not nurse from his otherwise attentive mother. Due to the impending blizzard, the decision was made to separate mom and calf in a back corral area and start him on a bottle of colostrum. Between his unsteadiness and the weather, the decision was then made to bring him inside and begin the process of hand raising full-time.
Token has had some ups and downs, but proves to be resilient. One day the zookeepers noticed he was weak and unsteady and would not stand to eat. When they finally got him up and walking, he was gentle with his rear right leg and it seemed painful when it was bent up towards his belly. He was immediately taken to the vet. After bloodwork, four radiographs (which were very challenging) and urine tests the results showed he had a high white blood cell count, and his right knee was more swollen and he seemed to be favoring it more. It was determined he had an infection in the joint (probably from birth) and he was started on injections. Thankfully, he continued to drink readily during his treatment. The following week he became constipated and was straining to go to the bathroom. A little mineral oil in his bottle did the trick.
Token is now much stronger and weighs approximately 145 lbs. at his 1-month milestone. He is drinking four bottles a day totaling 232 oz. He is getting spunkier and learning camel things, such as how to kick and spit.
The Bactrian camel, Camelus ferus, is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Restricted to the Gobi and Gashun Gobi deserts of northwest China and Mongolia, it is one of the rarest large mammals on Earth (currently numbering fewer than 1,500 individuals).