by Skyler Murry
Happy Hump Day—especially now that week-old Bactrian (two-humped) camel, Rusi, has found her way to the camel habitat at the Detroit Zoo today. You can see how stinking cute she is in the habit right across from the Horace H. Rackham Memorial Fountain. Born July 31 to 9-year-old mother and father, Suren and Rusty, the new calf has been nursing, napping, and exploring for the last week.
“Rusi is finding her footing and is curious about her new surroundings. Like most newborns, she spends a lot of time napping and nursing,” said Scott Carter, chief life sciences officer for the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS). “Suren is an attentive mother and is keeping a close eye on her new little one.”
Don’t be fooled, though, when you make it down to the zoo to see “little” Rusi. She weighed 125 pounds at birth and stands more than 4 feet tall. By the time she reaches maturity at age 4, she is expected to stand at 7 feet tall at the humps and weigh 1,600 pounds with a coarse and thick sandy brown coat.
As of now, she’s rocking a soft, gray coat and limp humps. Camel humps store fat—not water— which provides them with energy when food is limited; so as they fill with fat, Rusi’s humps will start looking more defined in the next 6 months.
Even with their large, two-toed feet made for walking across desert sand, and two rows of thick, long eyelashes and slit-like nostrils made to keep blowing sand out, they are quite suited for Michigan weather. Bactrian camels can survive in temperatures ranging from minus 20 degrees to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the the camels at the Detroit Zoo are domestic, Bactrian camels in the wild are critically endangered.
“On many days, there are more visitors at the Zoo than there are wild Bactrian camels in the world,” Carter said.
The DZS supports the Wild Camel Protection Foundation, the only charitable environmental foundation in the world with the exclusive objective to protect the critically endangered wild Bactrian camel and its habitat in the Gobi Desert.