Zookeepers at Banham Zoo came into work on Wednesday 16th March to a welcome, if not slightly unexpected, surprise when one of their camels gave birth for the first time.
Lucy, one of the zoos three domestic Bactrian camels, proceeded to go into labour in the early hours of the morning of Wednesday 16th March and by the time keepers arrived the calf was only minutes from being born.
Animal Manager, Mike Woolham said, ‘Our new camel is a very welcome if slightly unexpected new arrival. Our keepers had not witnessed any breeding behaviour from our male so we were not at all certain that she was pregnant. To say we were a little surprised by our latest addition isn’t too far off the mark’.
Mike added ‘But like most wild animals she would not have appreciated any extra attention from her keepers, most animals are usually best left to give birth naturally with the minimum of fuss and we would only intervene if absolutely necessary, many animals give birth overnight or in the early hours of the morning when there is least chance of disturbance’
The calf, already sexed as a male but as yet to be given a name, has been kept away from the public’s gaze whilst he bonds with his mother, particularly important as this is her 1st calf but Lucy and her new baby are expected to be on show to visitors this week.
Although the camels housed at the zoo are of the domestic variety, their wild counterparts from China and Mongolia are considered a Critically Endangered species[i] with less than 1000 animals currently living in the wild. The zoo regards its trio of domestic camels as valuable ambassadors for their wild counterparts and the additional interest that the new calf will inevitably create will, they hope, provide more focus on the conservation efforts currently underway to protect their wild cousins.
[i] IUCN red data list