Salhooda the camel, a mature female, made international headlines this week when she was photographed at the hospital receiving treatment for a foot infection.
These photos by Satish Kumar for Reuters show Salhooda dangling above an equine surgery table modified for a camel’s long neck, long legs and hump.
The original Dubai Camel Hospital opened more than 20 years ago, according to staff. The new facility has attracted attention from international breeders. The hospital can admit up to 20 camels.
Even before its official opening, it has become so popular that it’s had to turn away owners and camels who show up on the doorstep without an advanced booking.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, visited the state-of-the-art facility last week. “A lot of the surgeries we’ll be doing will be new to the camel,” said the head surgeon Dr Cedric Chan. “We can only guess what we might be doing in the future.”
Dr Chan, an equine surgeon with 25 years of experience, is part of a specialised team from the UK, Spain and Mexico.
About half of the medical equine equipment from Europe and North America has been modified for the camel.
This includes Equinosis, a set of sensors placed on the camel to detect lameness and asymmetry. Traditionally used for horses, this device had its algorithms modified for the camel’s gait.
Should there be a need to reassure owners, there is a VIP room where sheikhs can watch surgeries from above.
“The camel industry is an evolving industry and we’re very much marrying the old ways with the state of the art technology,” said Dr Chan.
Camels are easy patients.
“They’re very nice patients actually. They’re very gentle animals and they’re very laid back and we like them actually.”