The Milwaukee County Zoo announced the birth of a male Bactrian Camel on June 7. The calf, named Jethro, was born to parents Addie-Jean (better known as A.J.) and Stan.
Mother, A.J., is 7-years-old, and father, Stan, is 6-years-old. This is A.J. and Stan’s second offspring. Their other son, George, was born in 2017.
Jethro weighed 85 pounds at birth, which is underweight for a newborn calf. Zookeepers also noticed that the he had trouble nursing due to his lower jaw being longer than his upper. Because of his low weight and inability to adequately feed on his own, zookeepers began providing supplemental bottle feedings for the calf.
However, at 5 weeks old, he was gaining weight and began to have the energy levels for a camel his age. Vets are continuing to carefully monitor the camel’s weight and overall health.
Bactrian Camels (Camelus bactrianus) can grow up to 7 feet tall and weigh up to 1,800 pounds. They have long, wooly coats that range in color from dark brown to beige. Bactrians also have manes and beards of long hair on their necks and throats. They can be distinguished from other species of camels by their two humps—Dromedary camels only have one.
Bactrian Camels are native to central Asia. They migrate with flocks through harsh conditions; including, sparse vegetation, limited water sources, and extreme temperatures. They have several adaptations that allow them to survive in these conditions. For one, their humps allow them to travel long distances without food or water. It is a common misconception that the humps store water; however, they actually store fat, which can be used as energy when nutrients aren’t available. Another adaptation is their two rows of long eyelashes that block their eyes from sand and dust.
They are herbivores and have extremely tough mouths that allow them to eat almost any type of vegetation, even those with thorns. In times of environmental stress, they will eat fish, carcasses, and rope, among others.
Wild Bactrian Camels are considered “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN. Their population is expected to decrease by 80 percent in the next three generations because of hunting and predation.