The Rosamond Gifford Zoo introduced two new additions to their collection Tuesday.
“Although their not quite a year old, Patrick weighs 915 pounds and George weighs 750 pounds, so they’re big yearlings and they’ll certainly continue to grow,” said zoo director Ted Fox.
They’re bactrian camels, and Fox says they’ll eventually grow to 7 1/2 feet tall and weigh 2,000 pounds. He says bactrian camels can be found in the Gobi desert right between Central and East Asia. He says the camels are half-brothers, and are the first of their kind to be at the zoo since the 1980’s.
“They’re an endangered species so that fits with what we’re trying to do with helping to bring awareness to those species that are having trouble with population. It’s mostly due to over hunting in the Gobi desert.”
Fox says the Gobi desert gets colder than winters in Syracuse, which makes it easy for the duo to adjust to their new home.
“The staff has been working really hard to train them and have them acclimated to meeting visitors and they’re doing really really well. They seems to really like the fence time where the keepers bring them out in the show yard and let people walk up and pet them.”
Fox says bactrian camels have two humps to store fat, and other features that set them apart from other camels.
“When you look at them, they’re a lot hairier than a dromedary camel. The have really long shaggy hair that’s proving to be a challenge for the staff to get them to get habituated to being brushed all the time.”
Fox says the camels are expected to be on exhibit by this weekend. The two-humped camels can be seen right beyond the gray wolf exhibit on the zoo’s Wildlife Trail.