New animals coming to Sharkarosa
Sharkarosa Wildlife Ranch in Pilot Point has a sizable herd of 17 camels and is expecting even more.
Five females are pregnant, with two due in the next few weeks.
Though Sharkarosa’s camels seem to be breeding like rabbits, park co-manager Kelsey Adams explained that camels don’t usually have a highly successful birth rate. She co-manages the ranch with her partner, Brandon Wornick.
There are two herds of camels at the ranch: a herd of young camels that can be viewed along the Safari Walk and a larger herd of mature camels on the back of the property.
One bull, Olaf, a painted dromedary camel, patrols the back herd.
“He’s very beautiful; he’s like a textbook camel,” Adams said.
The male camel approached some of the females and stuck his dulla out. The dulla is part of a male camel's cheek.
“It’ll pop out, and he wants to show the females,” Adams explained. “It’s actually kind of a mating thing.”
Olaf also has what looks like a pomade on the back of his head. If one didn’t know better, it looks as if he had put pomade in his hair and combed it down in order to impress the ladies.
“That’s oil, it’s secreted and that is pheromones,” Adams said.
At this time, there are five pregnant females on the ranch.
Olaf and the females are not separated. Females can become fertile immediately after giving birth, so staff are constantly checking females to see if they have a visible “milk vein.”
The milk vein runs along the lower side of the camel's belly. When it is visible, it means the female is producing milk and, in fact, pregnant.
The gestation period of a dromedary camel is 15 months.
“So they’re holding them for a long time,” she said.
Camels, Pearl and Ducky, are both due in a few short weeks.
“Yeah, [Ducky] is ready. I saw it moving the other day, too,” Adams said.
Staff has already moved Pearl to a back pasture to be on her own as her time comes to have the calf. Like with many herds, babies can be threatened by males.
“I think Olaf will be fine, he’s a great bull,” Adams said.
Calves will stay with their mothers for approximately two to three years if the mother takes care of them.
However, Adams said camel mothers are known for rejecting their offspring.
“They’re not very good moms. They don’t take care of their babies very well,” Adams said
Staff watch when mothers have babies. They observe for mothers not only not feeding the baby, but they can also attack the baby as well.
If babies don’t receive necessary care from their mothers, staff will step in and begin bottle feeding the calves.
The ranch had four rejected babies last year.
Cooper is a male offspring from Olaf.
Sharkarosa brought him to Christmas on the Square in December.
“He’s a year and a month old now, and he looks exactly like Olaf.”
Cooper is part of the herd that stays on the Safari Walk at the front of the property. He and Olaf cannot be around each other.
“Male camels will fight and kill each other,” Adams said.
Sharkarosa also keeps Cooper away from the back herd because it is his family.
The young camels reach sexual maturity at five to six years of age. Then they will either start a new herd on the property or be sent to other accredited establishments depending on their lineage.
The ranch does not want any inbreeding.
“It’s bad on their immune systems,” she said.
Upcoming plans at Sharkarosa include a younger children’s covered playground area and new animals that are yet to be announced because, “They’re a surprise,'' Adams said.