Camel set to return to Chattanooga Zoo

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SODDY-DAISY, Tenn. (WDEF) — After concerns about a retired camel’s well being, the Chattanooga Zoo is taking him back from a Soddy-Daisy farm.

Sydney the camel came to retire at Ranch-O-Dino in February. Katie Noonan, one of the owners, says the Chattanooga Zoo asked if they would care for the animal.

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“We had several pastures that were not being used, so we were like, ‘sure, why not?’ It sounded like a new adventure,” Noonan said.

Darde Long, the Chattanooga Zoo director, says everything was going well initially, but recently people reported concerns about Sydney’s weight.

“We did check on him a couple of times, but he seemed to be in very good hands. They seemed to know what they were doing. We got a message on social media that said you need to go look at Sydney and so sure enough we sent someone up there, this caregiver and another guy from our team and Sydney was very very thin,” Long said.



Noonan says she then worked with the zoo and a vet.

“Let’s just increase his diet. The zoo instructed me on how to feed him. We followed those very strictly. But it turns out, with a bunch of exercise and a new environment, that just wasn’t cutting it anymore. So we increased the food and you can see he looks great. It didn’t take long,” Noonan said.

There were also some concerns about shelter, but Noonan says she was going to build one.

“We have a big enclosed barn over there, with very tall ceilings will Sydney’s shelter, so I was not in a huge hurry to build this shelter. So I was like I will treat him just like I do my horses, If he needs to come in, I will bring him in,” Noona said.

Sydney will leave the farm on Tuesday. He’ll first go to the UT Veterinary Hospital, before going back to the zoo.

“It certainly isn’t an effort to take him away from a good place. It is more of an effort to put him in a place where we can watch him carefully and make sure that he is okay,” Long said.

“Sydney is a free and wild spirit now and he is very happy and anyone can see it. And I am just going to have to pray about it and hope that he is okay,” Noonan said.