It is with great sadness that we share Dromedary camel Sammy unexpectedly passed away on Thursday morning.
Sammy appeared normal at first that morning, but he then suddenly became unresponsive. There were no signs of any issues with Sammy beforehand or any physical abnormalities to suggest what happened. He will be taken to the UF Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for necropsy and histopathology analyses. We hope to share those findings with you soon.
There is no evidence that the cause of Sammy’s illness is being experienced by Frankie, his brother. Our veterinary staff is running tests right now, and his animal care team is keeping an eye on him, however.
Sammy and Frankie came to the Zoo together in 2009 to be residents of the habitat our Cape to Cairo Express train travels through. You could tell them apart by Sammy’s drooping lip. Thirteen-year-old Sammy shared his habitat with Ankole-Watusi cattle, Eastern bongo, impala, Grévy’s zebra and more Expedition Africa residents.
Africa Barn Supervisor Nikki Perry’s favorite memory of Sammy was moving him into different habitats.
“He would get excited and run around to see if there were any snacking opportunities,” Nikki said.
Keeper Vanessa Kunz cared for our two camel brothers since their arrival at our Zoo. She described Sammy as a feisty, loveable camel. She remembered how little they both were when they first arrived. They both quickly grew to their average weight – over 1,700 pounds each.
“Sammy would love to come up to the truck with all the snacks on it and rub his body all over the truck making the truck shake from side the side,” Vanessa said.
Other favorite activities of Sammy included wallowing in puddles, getting his nail trimmed, and enjoying his snacks like browse, carrots, sweet potatoes and lettuce. He was a little lazy – so sometimes he’d army crawl up to the browse or grain.
One of Vanessa’s favorite memories was brushing Sammy when he was losing his winter coat. He tended to lose a lot of hair on the top of his head – and looked like he was balding.
“He is just an amazing animal and I feel lucky that I have gotten to work him all these years,” Vanessa said. “I will always remember him.”
Losing an animal resident is always hard, especially so unexpectedly. We ask that you keep our Expedition Africa animal care team and volunteers in your thoughts.