Keepers Diary - February
London Zoo is open to the public every day of the year except Christmas Day, but for us keepers and the animals that live here it’s business as usual 365 days of the year.
The camels that I look after are of the two humped variety and have the very original Latin name of Camelus bactrianus, but are more commonly known as Bactrian camels.
There are three females at London Zoo. Two adults, Nadia and Nina, who are both aged 18, and one youngster, Noemie, who is just twenty months old.
Noemie is an orphan camel who was transferred to London so that she could be mothered by Nadia and Nina, but now that she has reached the ‘terrible twos’ the age gap between the adults and Noemie is starting to show.
It’s at this age that juvenile camels begin to assert themselves and this change in behaviour is proving a headache for the adults. Nadia, who is the dominant animal in the group, tolerates the baby’s energy to a point before exploding in a rage that sends Noemie running!
Nina however has not aged quite as well as Nadia and suffers from arthritis, therefore Noemie’s energetic behaviour can prove to be quite wearing for her and so the keepers have been intervening in an attempt to keep everyone happy.
Recently I suggested roping Nina off from the other two girls, as this allows them still to feed and drink from the same hay racks and water bowls, but simply means that Noemie is kept at a comfortable distance from Nina.
This has been a complete success, in that none of the camels seem concerned by the rope barrier, where as a complete separation would have most certainly caused some agitation in the animals. Most importantly Nina’s condition seems to have improved greatly!
Nina’s care has also extended to weekly acupuncture sessions carried out by a specialist and arranged by the Zoo’s veterinary department. Nina doesn’t seem to mind this additional treatment and the alternative therapy may well have also contributed to the improvement in her condition.