These are some of the Zoo staff who made Rachel the camel a main part of their lives for the six months that Rachel fought for her life. Back row (left to right): Ned Warner, Dean Roepke, Dawn Wicker (supervisor of the area that includes the camels), Collette Konkel, Danielle Faucett (holding the reins), Craig Pavlik, Dr. Roberta Wallace (senior veterinarian), Tammy Paterson (behind Wallace). Front row (left to right): Dr. Vickie Clyde (veterinarian), Kim Pankonien, Carol Homan, Betsy Gilgenbach, Patty Hessen, Earl Conteh-Morgan, Celi Jeske, Margaret Michaels. Not pictured are Dr. John Scheels, Dr. Travis Henry (equine veterinarian), Noah Huber (horticulturalist) and other staff who cared for Rachel the camel.
“This is not good,” said the zookeepers.
Rachel the camel was frothing at the mouth. The Zoo staff sus- pected a problem, but she was eating and drinking normally. It
most animals won’t tolerate the I.V. tubes. But Rachel was lucky enough to live at a Zoo where animals are trained to help in their own health care.
was Nov. 28, 2005. By the next day she was not eating.
Within three days the Milwaukee County Zoo vets and dentist had discovered the problem. Rachel had a broken tooth. Dr. John Scheels, the Zoo’s dentist, took out the tooth and took radiographs (X-rays). When the X-rays came back, the vets discov- ered another problem, a broken jaw, and said, “This is not good.”
There was a third problem. Rachel had an infection in the broken jaw bone. It began to spread. Then a fourth problem: The antibiotics Rachel got weren’t working. Before long, Rachel was fighting for her life. Why weren’t the drugs working? Could this 7-year-old Bactrian camel be saved? How much would it take?
It would take a lot. “If we didn’t try something,” zookeeper Craig Pavlik said, “we were going to lose her.” In the course of six months, more than 25 Zoo staff would spend countless hours to save this charming camel with a great personality. Rachel may even have made history. She was kept on intravenous fluids for nearly four months—almost unheard of in the Zoo world because
Her story is a testament to: the dedication Milwaukee County Zoo staff have to the animals here the success of a training program used with the camels, and the new Animal Health Center that opened in 2003. Now, more than a year later, Rachel is alive and healthy, with an amazing story to tell. It started with that broken tooth and jaw. Dental problems in animals can be lethal. If an animal can’t eat, it will starve. Animals in the wild with tooth or jaw problems often die. If the veterinarians had not been there to help her, Rachel would have had only a slight chance of surviving. Weighing all of their options, the vets knew it would be difficult, but they decided
to fight for her life.
Rachel’s fight was made easier because she had been trained to tolerate health exams, needles to draw blood, and other proce- dures needed to care for her. Dr. Roberta Wallace, the Zoo’s senior veterinarian, said that the training program was crucial in helping