Late last month the veterinary care staff of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo performed a complete physical including blood tests and an ultrasound on , Laura, the 23 year old camel who resided in the Northern Trek area of the Zoo. Although the animal had been exhibiting loss of appetite nothing was found at that time. Early Sunday morning, Laura, was euthanized when it was found that she was in extreme medical distress.
It was when the Zoo’s veterinary care staff performed a necropsy (an animal autopsy) that a tumor estimated at the size of a basketball was found in her intestinal area. It was because of the location of the tumor that it had been impossible to detect by ultrasound or by hand.
Laura came to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in 1991 when the new Bactiran camel exhibit was opened. Laura had shared exhibit space in Northern Trek with her daughter who is 15 years old.
Under normal circumstances, Bactrian camels live to 30-40 years in the wild and a few years longer in zoo settings. They are distinguished by their double hump rather than a single hump as found with the Arabian camels. Bactrian camels are native to Central and East Asia and live in the rocky deserts of the region where temps can range from 100º in summer to 20º in winter.
Bactrian camels are easily domesticated while wild Bactrian camels can be still found in China and Mongolia but are classified as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
For more information, visitclevelandmetroparks.com/zoo or call (216) 661-6500.