Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus)

Bactrian Camel

In the valley field, making occasional appearances in the paddock adjacent to tiger playground.

Fast facts

Status Critically Endangered

Size Head-body: 320-350cm; shoulder height: 160-180cm

Weight 450-500kg

Gestation 390-430 days

Young 1

Life span Up to 35 years

What do I eat?

Bactrian camels are both grazers and browsers, and will eat just about any vegetation they can find. When they can find enough food they hardly need to drink because they can get most of the moisture they need from their food. In the winter they may get water by eating ice and snow.  If they need to, these camels are able to drink salt water slush. 

Where do I live?

These camels are able to live in some of the harshest places on earth. They are found in the Gobi and Gashun Gobi deserts in China and Mongolia, where there is little vegetation or water. Bactrian camels are adapted to be able survive the scorching summers and freezing winters of these areas.

Breeding

During the mating season, male Bactrian camels may spit, kick, bite and scream at each other. They may also shake their heads and roar, and will even foam at the mouth and shake their lips to fling the foam onto their heads and chests.

Females give birth in March and April. When they are about to give birth they leave the group and will stay apart for about two weeks.  Females give birth while standing. Calves are able to start walking within half an hour of being born. The young are generally weaned by 11 months. 

Predators

Gray wolves are known to predate on wild Bactrian camels, especially when camels are visiting oases to obtain water.

Conservation

Bactrian camels face a number of threats. Hunting for their meat and hides has significantly reduced their numbers over the last century. Climate change has meant there has been a decrease in the amount of water and vegetation available to the wild camels. In addition, wild camels face competition for food and water with domestic livestock such as domestic camels, sheep and goats. Wild Bactrian camels are also threatened by interbreeding with domestic camels.

A number of measures have been put in place to help conserve this species. Reserves have been created in Mongolia and China, and a captive breeding programme has been established in Mongolia.

Did you know?

Bactrian camels have a very long mane and beard on their neck and throat, which can grow up to 25cm long.

These camels have long eyelashes and can seal their nostrils to protect them from the dust of sandstorms.

Bactrian camels have broad toes and a big, flat footpad to help them walk on sand.

To protect their eyes from sandstorms, Bactrian camels have two rows of long thick eyelashes as well as bushy eyebrows to keep the sand out. They are also able to close their narrow nostrils to keep the sand out of their noses!

Camels’ humps store fat, which can be used as an energy source to help them survive if they can’t find enough food.

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We have visited the zoo last Sunday, and we loved it! My 2 1/2 years old was so excited and as soon as he saw the pinguins he was even more excited! It was really cold but that didn't stop us:) he wanted to see every animal and it turned out… Read full reviewMargarida, 2nd December 2016