A solitary dromedary gets lonely Hugo’s roommate, Picasso, was gone for the day, so the camel decided to go find him

rboone@theolympian.comMarch 5, 2013 

The camel that was temporarily on the loose Sunday morning in Thurston County has a name, a home, a career and is one of 42 owned by a company called Camels Unlimited.

The missing camel was Hugo, a dromedary currently being cared for at a residence in the Danico Lane area of the county, which is between Yelm Highway and Lake St. Clair.

Hugo, 6, shares a pen with a camel named Picasso, 8, a rare painted dromedary, but Picasso was visiting Jim’s U-fish in Spanaway, a 20-acre trout fishing farm that offers pony rides and other entertainment, said Sean Sage.

Sage and his wife, Stephanie, are taking care of the two animals on behalf of Camels Unlimited, he said.

Camels are herd animals, so when a member of the herd is gone, as Picasso was on Sunday, a camel like Hugo can get lonely, Sage said.

About 10 a.m. Sunday, Hugo decided to go looking for his friend, freeing himself from his pen. He then cut through the backyard, found an opening between two fences and disappeared into the woods. Sage found Hugo about an hour later and led him home, but not before a neighbor had reported seeing a camel on the loose.

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office responded to the call.

Sgt. Alvin Griffin told the Olympian on Sunday that getting a call about a missing camel “made for an interesting day.”

Hugo and Picasso’s pen is now chained shut.

Camels Unlimited, a business owned by Jesse Kearn, 27, has camels at four zoos throughout the country, said Kearn from the Memphis Zoo on Monday.

Kearn is a third generation exotic animal owner from Oklahoma. His family owns about 2,000 exotic animals and used to run the Rock Creek Exotic Drive-Thru Zoo in Adair, Okla., he said.

Kearn branched off from his family to form Camels Unlimited.

His camels have made appearances at Northwest destinations, including the Puyallup Fair and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma.

Zoo spokeswoman Whitney DalBalcon said the zoo has worked with Camels Unlimited for the past three years, both during the summer and for its annual Zoo Lights display. She said the zoo contracts with the company to provide camel rides to visitors. DalBalcon also said the zoo is in discussions with the business to provide camels this year, too.

On Monday, Hugo was back in his pen, calmly checking out his surroundings.

He sometimes picked at his hay but preferred the timothy that Stephanie Sage was feeding him, saying he sometimes gets spoiled.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com theolympian.com/bizblog

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