BioPark checks trees in wake of camel’s death

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A longtime inhabitant at the ABQ BioPark Zoo died suddenly Wednesday after a tree limb fell on Bea the Bactrian camel. For the past two decades, Bea made the BioPark her home.

“Just about closing time, one of the keepers heard a loud crack and boom,” ABQ BioPark Director Rick Janser said.

Keepers rushed to the exhibit. They say a large limb fell off a seemingly healthy cottonwood tree, striking and killing Bea. Janser called her death a freak accident.

“It’s huge, you know, Bea was that camel who greeted us every morning,” Rhonda Saiers, assistant curator at the BioPark, said. “It wouldn’t be extremely difficult to replace her as a camel, but as an individual it would be incredibly difficult to replace her.”

Last July a strong storm toppled trees and brought down heavy limbs throughout the BioPark. Since then, they’ve spent about $50,000 trimming and clearing trees in the public areas.

Janser said they came up with a plan Thursday morning, now crews will routinely evaluate and trim trees in animal exhibits to hopefully prevent something like this from happening again. According to Janser it had been a few years since the tree that killed Bea had been evaluated.

“There’s going to be a time when we don’t have any of these big cottonwoods left,” Janser said. “It’s just manpower. It takes a while to evaluate a tree and a lot of trees that look like they’re in good shape, like this one, can have a defect that’s not apparent to the naked eye.”

Crews were pruning trees in the elephant enclosure Thursday. Janser said they could spend $100,000 on clearing and pruning trees in the next few years.

Janser said they don’t have any plans to add another Bactrian camel to the exhibit; he said they’ll eventually phase out the display for something else.

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