The Okazaki City Higashi Koen zoo announced that its only camel, Hitomi, died of a heatstroke on Aug. 3 amid record high temperatures in Japan.
A staff member at the zoo stated that the 22-year-old camel was at higher risk for heat exhaustion due to her age and was exhibiting signs of a heat stroke last week.
Beginning in February, Hitomi was struggling to walk and spent more time sitting. Her health began to significantly decline around July, and the day before her death, Hitomi lost the ability to eat and drink water.
While treating her, staff members discovered that Hitomi’s body temperature rose to 42 degrees Celsius (107.6 degrees Fahrenheit), which is higher than the normal body temperature for camels.
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Hitomi also began to breathe rapidly while drooling more and grinding her teeth. To cool her down, zookeepers poured cold water on her and into her rectum, a technique that is used to cool down animals. Hitomi was also given an IV drip to keep her hydrated.
“We’re very saddened by her death- she was a sweet animal that used to get very close to us during feeding time,” the zoo’s veterinarian, Hirose Haruna, told Vice World News.
“Even though we knew that this day would come eventually, it was still very hard for us staff members to say goodbye,” said the zoo’s director, Ooyama Hiroko.
The day before Hitomi’s death, Okazaki city measured a record-high temperature of 36.8 degrees Celsius (98 degrees Fahrenheit). The city issued a heat stroke alert on the day.
Hitomi was born at a zoo in Ehime prefecture and was later moved to Morioka City for breeding. Due to renovation work, she had been living in the Okazaki city zoo since July of last year.
In honor of Hitomi, an altar has been set up for visitors to offer flowers.