This has been one hell-of-a-year year for the Sacred Camel Gardens… serious lessons, big tests… life, death and more life…
Several months ago one of our young mother camels gave birth to a beautiful white male calf. After a long, drawn out labor things now seemed almost perfect for her. Minutes later she rose to her feet. I stepped back and saw that her uterus had fully prolapsed. My head swirled and my heart sank.
Her eyes rolled back and she stumbled under the pain, staggering away several feet to where she collapsed on the ground. She sat staring at her baby, deeply wanting to mother this new one, but now she was being pulled in an entirely different direction, helpless to resist…
After a long, strenuous, night with our vet and several dear friends, working for over seven hours, we failed to re-insert the uterus and now faced the decision of whether to go on or to euthanise the mother. Her condition was worsening. After weighing up everything available to us at the time we decided to euthanise my deep friend – a decision I still feel every day to my core.
The first month of hand-raising the baby was fraught with ‘minor’ health issues and regular dashes to the vet clinic. By his second month little “Baraka” (for Blessing), started stabilising, becoming more robust, rambunctious and lively.
Long walks into the bush, sunny naps on the beach, introductions to the horses, goat and other camels… generally lots of fun and games. He also learned to reach into the truck to honk the horn and mess with the headlights – something he seems to delight in!
One day after his 6am feeding I went in to take a shower. Twenty minutes later I returned to find Baraka sitting in the middle of the porch, his face dripping blood. There was blood all over the deck and up the walls of the house. I rushed over to him expecting a broken lower jaw, relieved to find only soft tissue damage. What happened, I think, was that he’d been sucking on the short handle of the screen door. Then, forgetting to spit the handle out, he must have bolted right through it, ripping a hole in his cheek and tearing a five inch gash along the gum-line above his upper teeth. Thirty stitches later and he was on the way to recovery.
The latest, and hopefully last, physical/medical issue this young camel will face for a good long while is something that the medical professionals are calling “panosteitis”, otherwise described as inflammation of the bone tissue, of the front, right, cannon bone (his shin).
After a four hour visit to Davis Veterinary College, where several vets, technicians and radiologists gave their attention to Baraka’s condition we went home with some medication and care instructions. Panosteitis is reasonably well known in dogs. It has been seen in horses infrequently and we know of only one other case in a Bactrian camel in Pennsylvannia in 2007. The cause of panosteitis is not clear, and the condition apparently should resolve after a short, or a longer period. It tends to occur in younger animals and seems to be related to irregularities in bone growth. An important factor in caring for an individual with panoseitis is to not allow the temporary lameness of one limb, and consequent severe limping, to unduly impact and alter the growth of the other limbs and feet. So the judicious use of anti-inflammatories is an important factor in the overall care of an individual faced with a bout of limb bone inflammation. The correct medication is important as well, of course. It must be effective but easy on the kidneys and other systems. Rest is also important, though hard to achieve with a bouncing baby camel !
Within hours of the medication being given Baraka was much relieved, walking almost normally again. We’re also giving him a dose of tumeric (a herbal anti-inflammatory) in his milk each day.
The three attending vets are 99% certain that what we’re looking at is panosteitis. There’s a very small chance that it’s something else. Time and observation will tell. We return in early October for a follow-up exam…
Baraka created quite a stir at UC Davis, attracting many resident vets, nurses, interns and others from all over the hospital to make their way through the campus to see him. The attending vets praised his gentle, sweet, cooperative demeanor. John, Tim and I took a break at one point to get some lunch from the campus cafeteria. When we returned the exam was over and Baraka was in a room with a bunch of people just enjoying hanging out with him.
Our vet bill is getting larger than our small operational budget usually allows for so we’re also in a bit of a fundraising drive to gather enough money to carry things through for Baraka, which treatment also adds to the knowledge base for camels in general. What we learn with Baraka can contribute to better knowledge and care for all camels. If you’d like to contribute to our vet bill please click here, or here.
Below are the x-rays of Baraka’s forelegs. In the “cannon” (shin) bone of his front right leg Baraka has an inflammation of bone tissue spanning most of the cannon bone.
Right – “abnormal/mottled/shaded” >>
Please help with our vet bill, which is currently about $8,000. We’ve raised $2800 so far.
We don’t have a way to pay for this without donations.
Or you can send checks to: Sacred Camel Gardens, 12040 Seigler Springs Road, Middletown, CA (payable to “Fear-No-More Zoo”)
MUCH, MUCH, thanks to those who have already contributed, and to those of you about to do so !