Camel, Sanchi, Euthanized Due to Declining Health

Posted Date

April 21, 2023


Animal Updates, In The News

Over the past few months, unfortunately, our Zoo has experienced several animal deaths within its animal population. All but one of the animals (groundhog Gordy) succumbed to chronic, age-related health issues. All but one animal exceeded the life expectancy of its respective species living in human care.

Groundhog Gordy was humanely euthanized March 3. Preliminary necropsy results showed that he suffered from a hole in his aorta – which would have led to blood loss. This condition is difficult to diagnose while an animal is alive, however, Gordy’s animal care team had noticed initial clinical signs of a health issue. Since blood would continue to leak out through the hole in the aorta, it would have been fatal had he not been euthanized. At 4 years old, Gordy was considered middle-aged.

All animal losses greatly affect Zoo staff and visitors alike. Their absences are deeply felt, and all are deeply missed.

The Milwaukee County Zoo is deeply saddened to announce that one of its extremely well-loved animals, female Bactrian camel, Sanchi, was humanely euthanized April 19, at 26 years old. According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, of which MCZ is an accredited member, the median life expectancy of Bactrian camels living in human care is 17 years.

Sanchi was born at the Denver Zoo in March 1997 and arrived at MCZ in November 1997.

In the past couple of years, Sanchi had been experiencing some health issues, and her animal care team closely monitored her quality of life. In recent weeks zookeepers noticed a decline in her health and that she was no longer responding to medication and supportive care. Several supportive care methods were attempted including laser therapy and daily walks. Sanchi’s arthritis and difficulty moving around in her habitat were consistent with her older age, and after careful thought, the decision was made for Sanchi to be humanely euthanized.

Zookeepers describe Sanchi as a “loving dam,” but also a stern grandmother to her daughter Addie Jean’s (A.J.) calves. Her temperament was “super mellow and laid back, and very sweet.” Caregivers comment that when she was younger, she’d “add just enough sass into her training sessions with new keepers to help them grow in their camel-handling abilities; just enough of a hop or a buck to keep the keepers on their toes and gain confidence!”

Guests may remember Sanchi participating in the Zoo’s “Animals in Action” presentations and up-close group tours. She “seemed to enjoy her interactions with tours and the public. Before her medical issues, Sanchi was always the first to return to the barn for camel demonstrations – like she wanted to be the camel chosen for the day.”

Zookeepers say they’ll remember Sanchi as a very relaxed, “laid back” animal, and veterinary staff will most likely remember her as being a well-behaved camel during interactions for medical assessments and treatment. Sanchi will continue to serve as an ambassador for her species with A.J. and her five other offspring now living at other zoological organizations.

One zookeeper summarized by saying that “it’s hard for us and other staff to not form an attachment when she’s been here for 26 years – almost her entire life.”


In the first photo below, Sanchi is shown on the left; in the second photo, on the right.

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