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September 28, 2012

Black Beauty Ranch Welcomes a New Camel

Saudi the camel makes himself at home

by Julie Hauserman

Towering at about nine feet tall, a dromedary camel named Saudi is one of the newest—and largest—of the rescued animals now roaming the rolling Texas pastures of Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch.

Saudi is five years old, and he was surrendered to the North Texas Humane Society when the man who raised him realized he could no longer care for a camel.

Saudi's September arrival

On September 7, his first day at the ranch, Saudi received a special gift: his first-ever glimpse of another camel, as far as we can tell.

"We all wondered what Saudi's reaction was going to be after seeing another of his species for the first time," said Black Beauty Ranch Director Ben Callison.

Since he was two months old, Saudi lived on a Texas farm that was also home to a zebra and a donkey.

For the time being, Saudi has a large pasture all to himself. He's being quarantined until veterinary examinations are completed. Across his pasture, Saudi can see Omar, a 12-year-old dromedary camel who has spent nearly his entire life at the ranch. Over the years, Omar has befriended various species, including the late elephant Babe, who used to reach her trunk across the fence and gently twine it around Omar's neck.

"As we know from experience, too often the future for animals bred for the exotic pet trade is not a good one," Callison said. "By taking Saudi in, we're securing his future."

Omar: a potential pal

So far, Callison says, the two camels haven't shown a lot of interest in each another.

"It's actually encouraging to see that they don't appear fazed by each other. The fact that they are two males, we might be a bit concerned about aggression, but we are cautiously optimistic that the introduction will go smoothly," Callison said.

Omar had two camel companions in the past, but both have since passed away. Camels can live as long as 50 years.

"One of the biggest advantages of having Saudi here is to hopefully provide lifelong companionship for both Saudi and Omar," Callison said.

Exotic animals: escaping a sad fate

Likely destined for a life of parades, nativity scenes, petting zoos and pageants, Omar was born to a Texas exotic animal dealer. His life would have been an endless grind of being trucked around the country and rented out to various sideshows.

Fortunately for him, he was rescued and brought to the ranch as a young camel, where he was bottle-fed and raised in a loving atmosphere.

If all goes well, Omar and Saudi will one day roam a large pasture together, along with rescued goats and llamas.

"As we know from experience, too often the future for animals bred for the exotic pet trade is not a good one," Callison said. "By taking Saudi in, we're securing his future."

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