TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - Baby and Nessie, two dromedary camels, casually left their holding pen Monday night and began free roaming around a Sahuarita neighborhood.
Some neighbors saw them wandering around and called the sheriff’s department for help.
“In my 14 years on the force I’ve never had a call for a camel on the loose,” said Deputy Daniel Jelinio said. “It’s very rare.”
The camels were led back home for the night but the next day they began to roam again.
Deputies were called back a second time. This time, a search for the owners came up empty.
Neighbors, like Phil Wallace, who was busy feeding them alfalfa when KOLD News 13 pulled up, said the camels get out on occasion but this time, he didn’t see the owner.
The sheriff’s department thought it may be a case of abandonment.
Pima Animal Care Center and the Arizona State Department of Agriculture were called. There was no food or water for the camels as well as a horse, two cows, a llama, and two dogs.
It appeared serious.
It’s not illegal to possess camels in Arizona and it seems the only requirement is to make sure they have some room to roam.
While the investigation was underway, several hours in, the owner, a woman named Alex, pulled up in front of the house in a panic.
Sheriff’s cars were parked all along the road.
When asked, Alex said she came from the hospital where she had been for a week for cancer treatment. She said she had a caretaker for the animals but that person apparently fell down on the job.
She obviously loved the animals, raising them from a few weeks old, to adulthood. One of the camels, named Baby is now 12 years old. She said it had been her dream to own a camel. Now, she owns two.
Alex has posted videos and other information about her animals on a website called camels and friends. The site is camelsandfriends.com
There were no citations issued but the happy ending hoped for may be elusive.
Alex said because of her illness she may no longer be able to take of them and she may have to sell them.
Neighbors say they love having them in the neighborhood, showing off photos taken in the past.
They say they will miss the camels if they’re gone.