A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

November 17, 2008

So What Do You Get If ………..

 Some trips to the vet are for good reasons and such was the case when I took two of the visiting girls in for ultrasounds last week.   The ultrasounds showed that both girls were pregnant and the girls handled the procedure well.

 

What was unusual for my trip was that I was the only client at the vets that afternoon.  The vet did have some house calls to make later in the day, but for some reason that day was a little quiet – a welcome break for our usually busy vet.

 

The relaxed atmosphere at the vet clinic meant that we could get caught up on news and talk about various things we had been seeing or doing.  Our vet mentioned that recently he had been out in deepest rural New Mexico (the type of area where you don’t see anything anywhere close to you and are aware it has been a long time since you even drove past a house or a driveway) when he had come across two llamas standing proudly in a pasture.   The llamas made an unusual sight, standing there in the pasture with nothing else nearby not even a ranch cow (although I am betting those llamas were being used for guards for sheep or possible cows with calves).

 

Our conversation turned to the subject of llamas that pull carts, and we jokingly spoke as to how that might be a better option than cars in our current economy.

 

Then our vet asked me if I had ever heard of a llama being crossed with a camel.  I knew that at some time I had heard of such a creature but for the life of me I couldn’t remember what it was called.  I was pretty certain it did not inherit the camel’s hump though.

 

Our vet mentioned that one of his clients had recently brought a camel in to the clinic  and had allowed our vet to ride the camel.  Our vet had been surprised to see that the camel led off with it’s hind leg rather than the front leg, and that camels have a lateral gait (moving both hind and front leg from the same side at the same time) rather than a diagonal gait (moving opposite hind and front legs).  The camel our vet had ridden was a Bactrian camel (the two humped variety) and that led us to wonder if only Bactrian camels had the lateral gait or if Dromedary camels also have a lateral gait (they do).

 

The vet’s questions stuck in my mind when I returned home and I was still certain that I had at some stage heard of a camel crossed with a llama and so I did a little research to see what I could find.

 

It turns out that on January 14, 1998  Rama the Cama was born in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  Cama is the term being used for the offspring resulting from the crossing of a camel and a llama.  Some of the information I discovered mentioned Rama’s dam being a llama, but it seems as if Rama’s dam was actually a guanaco.  The confusion about Rama’s dam may come from the word lama (not only one “L”), which is the genus name  South American Camelids; a guanaco is a lama but not a llama.  You can see why people might get confused.

 

There is an interesting piece about Rama and how he came to be at

 

http://taylorllamas.com/Camel-LamaCross.html

 

Pictures of Rama can be seen at

http://taylorllamas.com/Camel-LamaCrossPhotos.html

 

Unfortunately Rama has not grown up with the nicest of dispositions, part of that might be that his dam had little milk and was not interested in Rama when he was born and so he was bottle fed.  The other contributing factor to Rana’s personality might just be the combination of the guanaco and camel personalities.   Rama also was not accepted by the camels and guanaco’s at the Camel Reproduction Center where he lives.

 

Since Rama’s birth other Camel-Lama crosses have been produced including Kamilah who does have a llama dam rather than a guanaco dam.

 

Rama is still alive and lives at the Camel Reproduction Center in Dubai; he likes to kick a soccer ball around for entertainment.  It still has not been determined if Rama is fertile or not.

 

If you have time to read a longer article check out

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/99oct/9910camels.htm

 

The article is in three sections but is an interesting insight into camels and the work of Dr. Julian “Lulu” Skidmore at the Camel Reproduction Center.

 

Happy Reading!

 

Rosemary

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