Animal Diaries Archive
Progress with the camels
28 July 2006
Hey everyone, it's Michele here. Several months have passed since I started working with the Exotics Department. Time has flown, and I am very excited to be able to tell you all that I have been busy doing lots of training with our amazing Dromedary Camels. There is a lot preparation and training involved in being allowed to walk these girls out on their daily explorations of the Zoo. They weigh in at around 600kg, and wouldn't hesitate to take advantage of that situation. Therefore, building a strong bond and gaining their respect is a very important part of my training with the camels.
The first step was bonding and just getting the girls used to having me around. Then I started haltering and tying them up in their yard. At first I was only allowed to walk our quieter, gentler girl Teela around her yard, and then this progressed to being allowed to walk her throughout the Zoo grounds. I now even have the pleasure of walking Teela out to the front of the Zoo to meet and greet the patrons as they enter. She absolutely adores all the attention and pats that she gets from everyone who's willing to come over and say hi.
Now onto Dajarra, our beautiful but cheeky girl. I am delighted to be able to say we get along just great. I am now able to walk her on her daily walks also. DJ, as we call her, has a reputation for being a bit of a rebel and giving her keepers a hard time.
Our morning ritual at the camel yard includes a big sloppy kiss from Teela, and even DJ has recently started giving me a morning kiss, just to make my day! Then we do a bit of training, for me as well as the camels. The more I work with these amazing girls the more I am in awe of them. They truly are one of the most unique and amazing animals I have ever had the pleasure of working with.Two weeks ago I gave my very first ever camel talk over the microphone. I was shaking like a leaf for my first one, and terrified of forgetting my words. Luckily, the more talks I give the easier they seem to get. The next big step in my training is learning to ‘hoosh’ the camels. Hooshing is the term we use for getting them to kneel down. Wish me luck!
Until next time,