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Camel drinks supermarket dry

PUBLISHED: 13:00 02 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:31 01 August 2010

HE may have had a rough start in life but this baby camel is thriving thanks to the round-the-clock efforts of his substitute mum and dad.

The male Bactrian camel, who is nearly three-weeks-old, was rejected by his mother at birth and owners Ray and Cicely Smith feared that the fragile youngster would not survive.

HE may have had a rough start in life but this baby camel is thriving thanks to the round-the-clock efforts of his substitute mum and dad.

The male Bactrian camel, who is nearly three-weeks-old, was rejected by his mother at birth and owners Ray and Cicely Smith feared that the fragile youngster would not survive.

But the couple, who run the Oasis Camel Centre at Linstead, near Halesworth, managed to get enough milk from the mother to give the baby the vital boost he needed in his first few hours and have since been hand-rearing the new arrival with goats' milk.

They have already cleared the shelves of two local supermarkets and have to buy 12 or 14 litres at a time to keep the hungry youngster full.

The baby camel, who does not yet have a name, has to be bottle fed every two to three hours and consumes about 10 cartons of goats' milk a day.

Mr Smith said that it was not uncommon for a mother camel to reject her young but added that they were delighted to save the baby, particularly as Bactrian camels are a critically-endangered species with less than 1,000 left in the wild.

The baby camel is the first to be born at the centre and is likely to be kept at the family-run business.

Mr Smith said: “It was the mother camel's first baby and we were not totally sure if she was pregnant. I was keeping a careful eye on her and on a Sunday I went into the camel shed at about 7am and there he was lying in the straw, barely breathing.

“The mum was not taking any interest at all, so I picked him up and rubbed him. He was shaking and shivering. We certainly thought he was not going to make it, especially when we showed him to the mother and she started snapping at him and going for him.

“The first thing the baby needs is the colostrum - the mother's milk - and that is not a common commodity round here.

“It dawned on us that unless we got it the baby would die. In the end we had to wrestle with the mother and we managed to get a bottle of milk from her. Then we managed to acquire some llama and alpaca colostrum from a lady in Stalham who was very helpful and rushed over here with that.

“Since then we have been feeding him goats' milk from supermarkets. Now he is full of beans.”

People visiting the centre can see the youngster being bottle fed each day and over the Easter holidays can enter a competition to pick his name.

For more information visit www.oasiscamelcentre.co.uk

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