Keepers Diary - March
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.
This month I have started a training programme with the bears, another group of animals that are looked after at Mammals South, the section of London Zoo where I work.
The bears we have at London Zoo are sloth bears, so called because of their large claws, which are similar to that of a sloth. Whereas a sloth uses its claws to conserve energy by hanging from branches, sloth bears use them to rip open termite mounds to get at the protein rich insects and grubs inside, that form a large part of this animal’s diets.
Here at London Zoo we have three bears, Lanka the elder female who is twenty one years old and her two offspring, Colombo, an eight year old male, and Ursula, a five year old female.
These bears are lovely, highly intelligent and possess their own personalities; Colombo is very playful, always interested in food and loves a good scratch. Ursula is also playful, but a little more reserved than her brother and more interested in bed than food most of the time!
Lanka is a more complicated individual who can be very affectionate one day, but aggressive the next.
Sloth bears are under threat of persecution in their country of origin because of bile farming, baiting and general human/bear conflict.
They can be very dangerous and because humans are developing further and further into the bear’s habitat there potential for more conflict between bears and people.
Working with these bears requires intensive training to ensure that we can give the best care possible.Once you have completed your training, a review is held to establish whether you are capable in this position, if you are then you are signed off to work with the bears. My training is going well (or so I believe) and I hope to be signed off soon.
More news next month...