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Rama the cama has company

posted on 22/03/2007: 3795 views

The Dubai Camel Centre made headlines in 1998 when it produced the world's first cama, a hybrid between a male camel and a female guanaco (llama's wild antecedent), species that were naturally separated 30 million years ago.

Rama the cama is now nine years old and shares the limelight with three others of his species: Kamilah, Jamilah and Rocky. The camas were conceived through artificial insemination, whereby llamas were inseminated with camel semen and ovulation induced by hormone injection.

Dr Lulu Skidmore, the centre's scientific director, says that more than 50 trials to cross llama eggs with camel sperm were done, resulting in 15 conceptions, six of which led to live births.

"Unfortunately, two camas didn't make it beyond three weeks," Dr Skidmore says. "One had a twisted gut, the other had low immunity."

Kamilah, a five-year-old female cama, Jamilah, three years old, and Rocky, a one-and-a-half year old male, were all born to llama mothers, and have grown up alongside the world's first hybrid.

"Rama was hand-reared, because his mother didn't take much interest in him when he was born," says Dr Skidmore.

"But we've since learned that llamas take very little interest in their young initially, so the three other camas were reared naturally. That makes Rama a little harder to deal with, but the three others are very amenable." "We thought it would be fascinating to cross new and old world camelids," Dr Skidmore said. (Gulf News)


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