Rare Baby Camel Born In Captivity In Hungary

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Born in one of the oldest zoos in the world, the Budapest Zoo, which was opened in 1866, was a rare baby camel from a breed that has become nearly extinct.

The Little baby boy Ilias, was born last week to an eight-year-old mother, Iris, whose family has lived at the zoo for several generations. Because this was his mother's first birth, she was inexperienced and unsure, so it was lucky they had help from caregivers.

"When he was born there were problems, the baby was looking for milk from the mother, but as this was her first baby she had no experience," Zoltan Hanga, a spokesperson for Budapest Zoo told AFP.

"Us zookeepers had to hold down the mother and gently help the baby to feed."

Baby Ilias is eating like a camel now, and getting lots of attention from mom and the rest of the world.

The endangered species, wild Bactrian, has mostly survived in captivity, however, there is a small group of about 800 to 900 camels that live in the Gobi desert in Mongolia, which reaches into other parts of Asia including China. The species is the descendant of a breed dating back three or four million years, which makes them the only truly wild camel.

These remaining wild camels live in a former nuclear testing area, with zero water, and in an extremely inhospitable area that sees temps go from Arctic cold to baking heat, with extreme black sandstorms making the area unbearable for anything other than a camel! Temps in this area are known to go from over 100°F in summer and –20°F in winter. Their survival of both extremes can be attributed to a thick, shaggy coat that protects them in winter and falls away as seasons change and temperatures rise.

The area in China's Xinjiang Province is being considered for a prospective nature reserve to bring back from near extinction, one of nature's most astonishing survivors, the wild, two humped Bactrian camel.

Bactrian camels are unique from their ancestors in supporting two humps rather than the single hump more common in other camels. Like all other camels, they are herbivores, with an average life span of 50 years.

They are over seven feet tall at their highest hump and weigh around 1,800 pounds.

Another unusual fact is that Bactrian camels go through a gestation period of twelve to fourteen months, giving birth to just one calf which usually weighs in at about 80 pounds. Twins are rare.

For those interested in this seeing this species of camel you don't have to go to Hungary, there is a farm in the United States that raises this breed called Schreiner Farms in Dallesport, Washington. There are also one or two zoos in the U.S. that these special and rare camels call home.

Images via YouTube - Wikimedia Commons

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