Cama: The Camel Llama Hybrid

Hybrids are often created by putting two similar related species in the same pen and letting “nature” take is course. However, when the size difference of the two species makes breeding physically impossible this isn’t an option. This is the case with the camel and the llama. How did we get a cama then?

A camel is about 900 pounds and a llama just over 100 pounds. Together they can not breed. However with the aid of science the cama was created, through artificial insemination. The idea was to create an animal that was the best of both the camel and the llama. Scientists hoped that the cama would have fur that would be worth something to the wool market much as the llama has. While at the same time they hoped that the cama would be hardier and easier to maintain in the dessert as the camel.

In 1998 a male cama, the first of it’s kind was produced after much research and several attempts at creating a similar creature through advanced insemination processes. He was named Rama. Rama doesn’t have as nice of fur as was hoped, but there is still some profitability if science continues to produce the results that they hope for. In 2002 a second cama was born, this time a female quickly named, Kamilah, which means, “perfect”.

Each of these camas look a lot like large llamas while also inheriting small ears and camel like tails. They do not have the hump of their dromedary camel fathers. They are definitely a mix of their heritage.

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The hope now is that as time goes on the two camas male and female will reproduce. Some believe that the cama will be sterile like other hybrids. There is a possibility that this will not be the case. Other hybrid animals have miss matched chromosomes. For example the mule has 63 chromosomes, because it’s mother has 64 and it’s father 62. When it goes to divide the chromosomes for reproducing it can’t because of the odd number. Both the camel and the llama have 74 chromosomes which means that the offspring has 74 as well. It may be possible that the cama can reproduce without the problems that the other hybrids have.

Other issues include the temperament of Rama. He is known by many as being down right mean and often aggressive. This would not make the type of animal for the herds of the dessert. Dealing with an ill tempered creature can be difficult to do in scientific facilities, let alone raising several and keeping them for their fur.

However, if breeding of the two camas is possible, then there will be the creation of a whole new species. It will be the first time that science has created a new species. This brings excitement for many, while it opens up moral issues for others. Is it right to breed the camel and llama together in the hopes of making a population of fertile creatures who can then breed together?