He weighs more than 1,000 pounds, loves carrots and, after a nasty sickness, is back to being healthy and happy thanks to a group of Washington State University veterinary doctors and students.
His name is Moses, and he is a one-humped dromedary camel who hails from Big Red’s Barn, a petting zoo in Coeur d’Alene owned by Jeannene Christ.
In mid-November, he was brought to WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine after Christ noticed he was losing weight and his appetite. Christ said it struck her as unusual when he stopped craving carrots.
“He’s a carrot-eating machine,” she said.
Moses had been treated at WSU last year for similar symptoms, so Christ decided to bring him back for more care.
Dr. Catherine Krus, an agricultural animal intern at WSU, said Moses lost about 300 pounds in a month and experienced diarrhea.
Krus said Moses was stricken with a type of parasite called Eimeria Macusaniensis, or E-Mac. It causes diarrhea, low protein levels, edema and intestinal damage.
As is often the case with this parasite, Krus said the first couple of medical tests on Moses did not detect E-Mac. But Moses had the parasite when he was brought to WSU last year, so they started treating him for it. Later, another test confirmed their suspicions.
After hydration and a stronger drug, Moses started to eat better and his edema started to disappear. The staff felt comfortable enough to send him home, and on Sunday, Moses returned to Coeur d’Alene. Christ said Moses gained about 200 pounds in a week.
Christ said she thinks Moses will miss WSU, its indoor stall, supply of carrots and having “all those students oogle over him.”
Krus called Moses a “wonderful” patient, likely because he is already used to being around humans.
She said some camels can be difficult to deal with because they tend to bite and kick.
“With camels, I think spitting is the least of your worries,” she said.
Christ said she started working with camels at the Phoenix Zoo about 30 years ago. She said while camels are often associated with the desert, they are acclimated to extreme cold as well as heat, which is why they can handle living in Idaho.
She said one of the challenges with owning a camel is finding veterinary care for the animal. She praised WSU for caring for Moses the past two weeks.
“WSU — it’s an awesome place,” she said.
Dr. George Barrington, Dr. Rachel Baumgardner and fourth-year student Allani Delis also helped treat Moses.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to email@example.com.