The Bactrian or domesticated camel

Camelus bactrianus


  • Unlike in other mammals, the erythrocytes of Tylopoda are oval.
  • Camels move by stepping forwards with two legs on the same side, creating a rolling motion.
  • The ancestors of camels lived in North America over 40 million years ago. Two million years ago they migrated to Asia. The Bactrian and Dromedary originate from them.

The Bactrian camel is thought to have been domesticated prior to 2500 B.C. The camel is an indispensable draft and pack animal in desert. Humans also use the camel’s milk, meat, wool, hide, sinews, bones, dung and urine.

The wild Bactrian camel living in the Gobi Desert is classified as threatened by the IUCN. Its decline is caused mainly by settling of oases (limited access to the watering places), hunting, prolonged drought, and hybridization with the domestic camel.

  • Has keen vision and a perfect sense of smell.
  • Small ears lined with hair – protection from sand.
  • Broad calluses above the eyes – ideal sunshade.
  • A double row of heavy lashes – protection from sand.
  • Semitransparent eyelids – keep out dust, act as windscreen wipers.
  • Slitlike nostrils can be closed to keep out dust and sand.

A groove from each nostril to the cleft upper lift – any moisture from the   nostrils can be caught in the mouth and so the organism loses less water. Tough lips and papillate mouth – enable to eat coarse and thorny plants.

  • Long legs – the air around the body is cooler than on the ground.

Cutaneous pads on the chest and knees in spots that touch the hot sand when the animal is lying. The body weight is borne on the phalanges of two middle toes (the lateral digits are vestigal) of both feet – broad soles to walk on loose sand. The digits are embedded in a flat cutaneous pad – protection against hot sand and sharp rock splinters.

  • Can endure even the freezing alpine cold.
  • Thick winter pelt.
  • Fat cells – a source of energy.

In water shortage the organism can absorb water from different tissues of the body. The kidneys are capable of concentrating urine to reduce water loss. The camel can lose water equivalent to 25% of its body weight and still go on walking.

The body temperature depends on the temperature of air, being 34ºC at night and up to 42ºC at day (only now the animal starts to perspire).


  • I am able to carry a load of 170–270 kg at a rate of 47 km per day, or 4 km/h over a period of four days.
  • I can run at the speed of up to 65 km/h.
  • When hungry, I can eat fish, meat, bones and leather.
  • Having been long without water, I can drink 100–135 litres in 10 minutes.
  • I can even drink brackish water and eat salty plants.
  • When I am tired, I lie down to rest.

 Baktrian-Christina-Daous2 Baktrian-Christina-Daous3 Baktrian-Christina-Daous


  • Ticket office
  • Indoor expositions *
  • Children’s Zoo

*Indoor expositions are closed on Mondays.
The Zoo closes two hours after the ticket office is closed.

How to get here

Paldiski mnt. 145 – North Entrance

From Tallinn city centre (Kaubamaja) bus no. 42 (Bus stop Zoo) From Freedom square (Vabaduse väljak) buses no. 22, 41, and 42 (Bus stop Zoo) From Railway station (Balti jaam) buses no. 21, 41, and 43 (Bus stop Zoo)

Ehitajate tee 150 – West Entrance

From Tallinn city centre (Kaubamaja) bus no. 42 (Bus stop Karikakra or Nurmenuku) From Railway station (Balti jaam) bus no. 43 (Bus stop Karikakra, Nurmenuku or Zoo) Buses no. 10, 12, 13, 28, 37, 45, 46, 47

Zoo map


E-R +372 6943 300; Emergency: 512 69 65

Ehitajate tee 150/Paldiski mnt. 145
Tallinn 13522, Estonia

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