Camels are even-toed ungulates, which means they are hoofed animals that put their weight mostly on their third and fourth toes (as opposed to horses, for example, that put their weight on just their third toe, and are called odd-toed ungulates). They are most closely related to the llamas and alpacas of South America.
There are two types of camel: the dromedary and the Bactrian (Bactrian is capitalized because it is a proper name). The dromedary has one hump, like the letter D on its side. A Bactrian camel has two humps, like the letter B on it’s side. Easy to remember.
The dromedary is found throughout the Middle East, while the Bactrian camel is found only in Central Asia. All of our camels at the Bowmanville Zoo are dromedary camels.
Facts & Myths
- Camels do not store water in their humps. The humps are made of fatty tissue that the camels can metabolize when they need energy. The fat is concentrated on their backs because that keeps the animal cooler than if it were spread around their bodies like in most animals.
- The name ‘camel’ is derived from the Hebrew or Phoenician word ‘gamal,’ which means ‘to carry.’
- The largest population of camels today is in Australia! They were imported there in the 19th century to support early settlers and have multiplied rapidly. There are now an estimated 1 million camels in Australia!
- Camels can run as fast at 40 mph for a short period of time.
- Camels are related to a number of South American animals, including the llama and alpaca.