Chattanooga Zoo takes camel back after report that he was being mistreated

Sydney the camel, image: WTVC

A camel that once lived at the Chattanooga Zoo was sent to retire in the pastures of a private Soddy Daisy ranch.

However, one online message alerted zoo representatives and now they're taking their camel back.

Sydney the camel currently lives at Ranch-o-Dino and while ranch owner, Katie Noonan said he's doing well, the Chattanooga Zoo is not convinced this is the right fit.

Noonan said Sydney came to the ranch as a surprise. Members of the zoo said they knew Noonan and the property she had, where she took care of many animals.

However, Darde Long the Chattanooga Zoo president, said they received a message in the summer that said Sydney needed to be checked on.

“And they mentioned in the Instagram note, that he was very, very thin and when we got there, he was really thin,” said Long.

Long said it could have been a number of reasons why the camel lost weight. The zoo checked on Sydney again, and that's when they voiced their concerns and Noonan had a vet visit.

“He told us, last time I was here, I didn’t notice that he was losing weight but I see it now,” said Noonan.

Noonan said she didn't realize Sydney was losing weight and said she just followed how the zoo told her to take care of him.

“Basically, he told me it's not a big deal, don’t worry. Let’s change his diet, let’s get a little weight on him, I think he told me 100-150 lbs., something like that and let’s give it about 6 months and see where we're at,” said Noonan.

It has been one month and Noonan said Sydney has gained weight, but that's half of the zoo's concern.

“Our other concern was making sure he had proper shelter and that was something that hadn’t happened yet,” said Long.

Noonan said she has plans for the shelter, but Darde said with USDA regulations to think about, they cannot wait any longer.

“The final thing is he does belong to the zoo. We've always retained ownership of him and we feel like he's better off here kind of end of day, end of deal and we're the experts on this,” said Long.

Noonan said in her heart, she believes this is where Sydney needs to be, but it is the Chattanooga Zoo that he will be calling home once again.

Darde Long said they plan to pick Sydney up next week and keep him in retirement.