Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day (and the upcoming Farm Babies event beginning April 1), a male Bactrian Camel calf is now on exhibit on the Northern Trail at the Minnesota Zoo. Born March 7 weighing a whopping 125 pounds, the calf – who hasn’t been named yet – has been kept offexhibit with his mother to ensure that he was healthy and gaining weight. Camels usually gain approximately two pounds per day, and will reach adult size (1600–1800 pounds and eight feet tall) in 3-4 years. The gestation period for Bactrian camels is just over one year. This is the fifth calf for mom “Sanya” and the eighteenth for dad “Turk.” The calf will nurse for a full year, will be independent at age four, and fully mature at age five.
Photo credits: Minnesota Zoo
A few Bactrian camels remain in the wild in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia, but most have been domesticated. Geologically, camels evolved in North America and migrated to Asia two million years ago across the Bering land bridge. In the wild, they are quite shy. They usually congregate in small herds of up to six individuals (one male). They can withstand extreme temperatures and reportedly are good swimmers. They can drink as much as 15 gallons of water at one time and have excellent stamina. In the wild, they will eat practically any vegetation that grows in their arid environment. In captivity, grass hay, mixed grain and vitaminmineral supplements are provided (about 1317.5 pounds daily). Life expectancy for Bactrian camels in captivity can be up to 20 years.