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July 16, 2013 > New Camels move in at Oakland Zoo

New Camels move in at Oakland Zoo

Submitted By Nicky Mora

Oakland Zoo is happy to announce the arrival of two new dromedary (Arabian) camels that relocated from Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. One male named Bahir (meaning dazzling), and one female, Zahara (meaning shining, exquisite flower), are young camels and weigh about 630 pounds each, but will grow to reach 1100-1500 pounds as they mature.

There are two types of camels; the dromedary (Arabian), which reside at the Zoo with one hump, and the bactrian camel, which has two humps. The hump(s) of a camel stores excess fat that the mammal is able to live off of when food and water is scarce. Camels are both browsers and grazers. Oakland Zoo's new camels come from the same blood line as the Zoo's current camel residents; therefore, no breeding will be taking place at the Zoo. All four of the zoo's resident camels share the same father.

Zookeeper Erica states that the animals have been acclimating very well over the past few months to their new home at Oakland Zoo and no stress behaviors have been observed. After months of working on introductions to the Zoo's older female residents, Layla and Sabha, the four Arabian camels are mingling together and share the same space on exhibit. Erica, Camel Keeper, said:

"Both sets of camels are interacting well with nuzzling, mutual grooming, and smelling. There is an occasional nip from the older girls, Layla and Sabah, but this teaches the new, younger camels to just walk away."

Camels are able to eat practically anything that grows in the desert, including salty and thorny plants that are often rejected by other grazers. At the Zoo, their diet consists of grass hay, a variety of edible browse - primarily acacia, fresh cut weeds, grass, pelleted grain, and the occasional produce such as carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, squash, beans, and greens. Their knees are callused in order to withstand the hot sand when kneeling down, and they are capable of closing their nostrils to stop sand from entering.

Zookeepers spend a lot of time with a rake and shovel in hand to care for the camels, but also possess patience and a sense of humor when working with Oakland Zoo's camel residents.

Oakland Zoo
9777 Golf Links Road (off Highway 580)

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