many hairs protect eyes and ears from dust-storms, and, surprisingly,
the flexible lips are seemingly unhurt by the tough, thorny plants
( typical of desert areas ) which camels love.
shedding in May and June of the Bactrian camel's thick winter coat
produces a distinctly moth-eaten appearance.
first camels evolved in North America; some gradually crossed to
Asia; others moved to
America, becoming the Llamas
and their relatives. The survival abilities of camels were appreciated
by man, and may have been domesticated 5,000 years ago. Camel's
adaptations include a woolly coat, and uniquely, oval shaped red
blood cells allowing extra oxygen-carrying capacity vital in the
high Andes. Their unusual mating behaviour involves the female's
squatting on the ground.
original pair of chocolate brown Bactrian camels was purchased for
£1000 (with the assistance of a 50% grant from the former Glasgow
Corporation) in 1973. At the time the Soviet Union had just released
a herd of about one hundred into the world trade, to help raise
desperately needed foreign currency. After twelve months quarantine
at Belle Vue Zoo, Manchester, our pair arrived in Glasgow, and our
stock was descended from them.
few years we had to change our male to prevent inbreeding. Our original
male went to Windsor Safari Park, being replaced by " Gilbert
, a dun-coloured male from Whipsnade Zoo.
Gilbert later moved on to become 'king' of the herd at
Longleat Safari Park and his place was taken by a young chocolate
coloured male " Caspar " from Whipsnade. The oldest of
the dun females was " Gealan " which is Gaelic for
'little white thing' . It seemed very fitting soon after she
was born, but as she towered over us as an adult, it may have been
a touch inappropriate.