One of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's two Bactrian camels was euthanized after her keepers discovered her in medical distress in her night quarters early Sunday morning.
"Laura," the 23-year old camel, had been under medical supervision and treatment for loss of appetite; and, late last month the veterinary care staff performed a complete physical, blood tests and an ultrasound which revealed nothing unusual.
The Zoo's veterinary care staff performed a necropsy (animal autopsy) and found a basketball-sized intestinal tumor that likely contributed to her faltering health. The location of the tumor made it impossible to detect through ultrasound or by hand.
Laura had been at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo since 1991 when the Zoo debuted a new Bactrian camel exhibit. She shared exhibit space in Northern Trek with her 15-year-old daughter.
Bactrian camels in the wild have an average lifespan of 30-40 years and typically live a few years longer in zoos. They have two humps rather than the single hump of their Arabian relatives. They are native to Central and East Asian rocky deserts where temperature extremes range from 100 degrees in the summer to -20 degrees in winter.
While there are domesticated populations of Bactrian camels, truly wild Bactrian camels are native to China and Mongolia and are classified as "critically endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.