Toledo Zoo announces the birth of Zehra

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By Heather Pollauf | 

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – She’s already one month old, and she weighs more than 130 pounds. Zehra is the zoo’s newest Bactrian camel.

She’s doing well now. But her life got off to a bumpy start.

Erik Regazzoni, Curatorial Fellow of Mammals with the Toledo Zoo tells 13abc, “When she was born, her mom Sasha, those maternal instincts didn’t kick in, and she didn’t really take good care of her. So we had to step in and we’re actually hand-rearing her.”

Regazzoni says that what happened to Zehra is actually common.

“For our domesticated mammals, it’s actually about 50/50,” he explains. “Sasha was a very young female; she’s only about three years of age. Typically, when moms are fully ready to become mothers, they’re around five years.”

But Bactrian camels are sturdy animals, eventually growing up to eight feet tall and weighing as much as 1500 pounds! They’re found in Mongolia and central Asia, so they’re built for harsh weather.

“They are very well-adapted for cold and hot environments found in the deserts of the Gobi up there in Mongolia.”

You’ll actually see some of those adaptations in action right now at the zoo.

Regazzoni says, “You might see camels that look like they’re shedding fur. It’s them shedding their winter coats. So they have a summer coat and a full winter coat that they shed once summer arrives.”

The zoo says that Zehra was born to mother, Sasha and father, Cash. Her name means “bright” in Mongolian.

Zehra is one of four camels at the zoo, and she’s expected to be ready for exhibit next week! You’ll find her in Tembo Trail where the camels share space with the reindeer.

In a press release, the zoo announced that visitors will be able to watch the daily bottle-feeding sessions once she goes on exhibit.