Local pets: Colin the camel
21st August 2020
Amander Meade meets Colin the camel, who belongs to Vernon Moore of Moores Estate Agents
Vernon’s grandfather Jack spent his life as a professional gamekeeper and is remembered as a man who employed conservation and environmental ideology far ahead of his time. Jack was employed by both the Sandringham and Stapleford Park estates, and Vernon remembers spending time with his grandfather, learning about wildlife and country lore from him. ‘At one time, Lord Gretton kept some animals owned by Chipperfield’s Circus at Stapleford, including lions and apes. My grandfather was involved in their welfare as well as gamekeeping on the estate and that made a big impression on me as a boy.’ Entrusted with a Dangerous Wild Animal licence, Vernon has rescued many unusual animals in his time, and his collection has included rare water fowl, kabaris, maras, wallabies and limas – many of whom have been loaned to specialist breeding programmes around the UK.
It was while visiting a sanctuary looking for a female to keep his male lima company that Vernon first met Colin – a Mongolian bull camel. Definitely not in the market for a camel but under a certain amount of pressure from his young son Max, who fell in love with Colin at first sight, Vernon agreed to give him a permanent home. ‘We built him a shelter and created a sand pit for him, as camels love to roll in sand almost daily. His enclosure had to be made secure to zoo standards, and, of course, we had to gain clearance from the Council.
Of Colin’s history, we know that he performed with Chipperfield’s until the law changed and prevented the use of animals in circuses. He also spent some time in a zoo before arriving at the sanctuary. Colin’s brother is also in a sanctuary in a different part of the country.’
Vernon is hoping to secure a wife for Colin, thought now to be in his mid-20s, in the hope that they will soon be hearing the patter of tiny hooves. Although Colin is far from lonely with all the company he has from the other animals, camels are naturally a herd animal, and I would like to see him with a proper mate. He doesn’t see too well due to cataracts, but we were advised that, on balance, surgery would pose too great a risk to his life. He copes well with extremes of heat and cold but isn’t a fan of the rain when he heads for the rear of his cosy shelter. He’s very appealing and has a charm all his own, but we are always respectful of him – after all he’s animal of substantial weight and strength, and camels will defend themselves vigorously if they feel threatened.’
Happily settled with the Moore family for a number of years now, Colin became well known to locals during the lockdown period. ‘As well as the hay we feed him, usually local pubs and restaurants are kind enough to offer Colin lots of peelings and spare fruit and veg to help supplement his diet, but during lockdown they were closed, so we appealed to local people to save their leftovers for Colin instead,’ explains Vernon. ‘The response was fantastic – people rallied to help keep Colin well fed, and he was extremely grateful. Camels also love willow branches, and Colin’s personal favourite treats are bananas. He’s had a colourful career and now has a home here for life – we just love him.’
To find out more about Moores, visit https://mooresestateagents.com