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Camel-ology
January 3, 2014 3:56 PM   Subscribe

Do not pamper your animal. A camel is your partner in work, not a pet. You must look into its gigantic, sable eyes and address it firmly. You can reward it with ear scratches.
posted by stoneweaver (40 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
When you ride a camel do not wear pants you care about, for they too will smell like camel. Which is to say: terrible.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:05 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Hunh. I had never considered the hump v. camel-packs problem. There must be a Zen art to loading a camel.

(I feel much the same way about camels as I do about goats: e.g., PRECIOUS ORNERY MOUTHY BAAABIES LET ME LOVE YOOOOU.)
posted by WidgetAlley at 4:05 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


Although I'm Iranian (which would lead some misinformed Westerners to conclude that I have extensive experience with camels) I've only ridden one once at the zoo. But I have heard various things about their personality and temperament. As mentioned in the article, "camels [indeed] do not forget [mistreatment]" and will eventually settle the score with anyone who has abused them, whether their revenge comes in the form of a serious, painful bite or by abandoning you in the middle of the desert. They are also more obstinate than mules and will not be forced to do anything against their will.
posted by Devils Slide at 4:06 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


A camel may be able to work for a week without drinking, but only a person can drink for a week without working.
posted by mr. digits at 4:06 PM on January 3 [14 favorites]


The thing I love about camels is that they always look as if they are pondering the sad inadequacy of all things upon which their gaze happens to fall. They have an air of majesty patiently tolerating difficult circumstances.

When I have to try to overawe someone into doing something for me or scolding them I try to wear the look of which all camels are innate masters. It is a lifelong struggle because their natural talent honed over a lifetime will always be better than my amateurish imitation.
posted by winna at 4:14 PM on January 3 [19 favorites]


“The fact is that camels are far more intelligent than dolphins. They are so much brighter that they soon realised that the most prudent thing any intelligent animal can do, if it would prefer its descendants not to spend a lot of time on a slab with electrodes clamped to their brains or sticking mines on the bottom of ships or being patronized rigid by zoologists, is to make bloody certain humans don't find out about it. So they long ago plumped for a lifestyle that, in return for a certain amount of porterage and being prodded with sticks, allowed them adequate food and grooming and the chance to spit in a human's eye and get away with it.”

― Terry Pratchett, Pyramids
posted by strixus at 4:15 PM on January 3 [21 favorites]


Oh my gosh, the comments on this story are actually good! We've found a nirvana of Internet comments! Also, camels have three eyelids, cool!
posted by limeonaire at 4:18 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I was in Morocco once and in a good position to get a camel ride. I passed. So far, life has worked out well for me after that. I think everyone won.
posted by jimmythefish at 4:20 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


My wife was a sheltered girl. Grew up in the city, was never around animals other than cats. Like her family considered dogs livestock only fit for a bardyard so when we went to the zoo and got to the part of the zoo where you could hang out in the petting zoo and feed the camels and giraffes and such she had no idea what to do. Goats chased her around the petting zoo proper because they started to swarm her and she, seeing an onrushing herd of weird-looking animals, chose to flee, which the goats took as "PLAYTIME!" and chased her ever more enthusiastically. I didn't help much as I grew up with animals of all sorts so was busy making friends like St. Francis of Assisi and, in fairness, laughing hysterically.

Anyway the best part of this little adventure was the camels. My wife had turned away to look at something in the distance and one of them looked at me in a way that said "Heh, watch this" and put his head so very close to the back of hers she could feel his hot breath on her neck. Like in the movies where the serial killer is right. behind. you. She turned around and screamed in the proper horror movie way when she saw enormous camel-head right in front of her, flailed, and dropped the paper bag of food on the ground, which the camel promptly picked up and ate, bag and all. She tried to get me to get it back but I said he'd won it fair and square and anyway I was too busy laughing because I am a bad person.

Camels are basically Morrissey, winna? I dig it.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:22 PM on January 3 [40 favorites]


This guy is already complaining about dealing with cars when he moves to the Northern Hemisphere?
What a debbie downer.
posted by Colonel Panic at 4:34 PM on January 3


I just can't picture Morrissey carrying anyone on his back across the Empty Quarter.
posted by Flashman at 4:41 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


That article is enough to make me love camels, even though (probably for the best) I have never seen one in person.
posted by JHarris at 5:14 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I can, however, picture Morrissey spitting in your eye.
posted by arcticseal at 5:18 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]


I will miss it dearly in the industrialized Northern Hemisphere, where I will suffer, like everyone else, under the hegemony of cars.

Camels also oppose the hegemony of the automobile, but far less eloquently.
posted by Turkey Glue at 5:21 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


Please please please camel get what I want
posted by The Whelk at 5:21 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Lovely.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:25 PM on January 3


The wiki article is sparse: does anyone have any resources detailing the history of camel domestication?
posted by codacorolla at 5:29 PM on January 3


I will miss it dearly in the industrialized Northern Hemisphere, where I will suffer, like everyone else, under the hegemony of cars.

I initially read that as "the hegemony of cats," and I thought "someone has a chip on their shoulder, and, anyway, who would use a cat as a pack animal?" Sadly, I realized my mistake.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:36 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


That is some wonderful writing. As JHarris, I am moved to love camels.
posted by Bovine Love at 5:46 PM on January 3


My mind was BLOWN watching one of those "Planet Earth" documentaries (I don't know if that's the name; mostly just a lot of really gorgeous photography) and they showed a herd of wild camels roaming the desert. Which led me to contemplate the idea of NON-domesticated camel society, which I had never even thought of, having only seen them in zoos and in cities in the Middle East.

My favorite camel memory is when I was at a market in Cairo and saw at least 8 camels somehow packed into the bed of a pickup truck, only their necks and heads above the edge of the truck. Their expressions were much like winna describes.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 5:57 PM on January 3


Oh, we briefly had feral camels here in the States after the demise of the Camel Corps.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:00 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


It's odd, because (not knowing much about camels), I'd always assumed that they were on the wilder end of the domesticated animal species, so much so that I always assumed that they were more wild than not. But, reading a bit about it after reading the above, it seems that they've been domesticated for quite some time.
posted by codacorolla at 6:10 PM on January 3


I can, however, picture Morrissey spitting in your eye.

Or inflicting a painful bite, vegetarianism aside.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 6:17 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Adorable white baby camel (1:28)
posted by Devils Slide at 6:17 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


"Camels carried incense to the temples of Aphrodite in the Hellenistic world. They carried pink African gold to the ports of Abyssinia and papyrus manuscripts on optics and calculus to Timbuktu. They carried Islam from Tashkent to Fes in Morocco. They carried my Mac laptop to Jordan."

From the author in the comments section, more of his beautiful writing!
posted by Anitanola at 6:25 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Also, it might be time to rematch The Weeping Camel.
posted by Anitanola at 6:38 PM on January 3


I'd swear I typed "rewatch" and look what I got, finger-brain!
posted by Anitanola at 7:19 PM on January 3


You must look into its gigantic, sable eyes and address it firmly. You can reward it with ear scratches.

This is also more or less how I treat Mr. Pterodactyl.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:18 PM on January 3 [11 favorites]


Dromedary camels have no true wild relatives. Bactrians do have a wild relative.
Camels domesticate very easily. They actually aren't that hard to train.
They don't smell bad if you groom them regularly.
I can still wear the skirt and T-shirt I wore when I went to ride a camel. I got no bad smell on it whatsoever
I have ridden camels three times in my life. They are my favorite domestic animal.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:09 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


The baby white camel will be brown. Well actually by now it's brown.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:17 PM on January 3


Ugh, three of the Related Videos on the baby camels video is of animals mating, and #5 is of cameltoes. THANKS YOUTUBE
posted by JHarris at 11:08 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


It's easier to ride one through an eye of a needle
than it is for an atheist to take a knee to an idol.
posted by Chitownfats at 12:59 AM on January 4


Actually, are there any camels in the Southern Hemisphere?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:23 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


Heaps in Australia, originally brought by Afghan traders.

I don't know what they expected to trade the camels for.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:07 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


"Actually, are there any camels in the Southern Hemisphere?"

Alpacas and llamas are native to South America.
posted by Coaticass at 6:42 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


The rest of the series is well worth a read. He is a gifted writer.The quality of the comments is quite good and in this new year renews my hope for humanity.
posted by jadepearl at 7:52 AM on January 4


Based on my limited experience with one camel, they will taste anything that gets near their mouth, and when they break wind it will alarm them into running away, which everyone nearby might also consider.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:25 AM on January 4 [3 favorites]


Yes, in fact, Australia also has feral camels.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:04 AM on January 4


Based on my limited experience with one camel, they will taste anything that gets near their mouth

Yah - I used to lead desert treks as a tour leader - the camels would carry cases of water for us but you had to really watch them or they'd eat the boxes and you'd lose the water bottles. In fact, whenever we'd finish a box, our Bedouin guide would just feed the cardboard to the camels.

The guides also claimed that they carried so much pot because the camels liked to eat it, but I remain a bit skeptical about that one.
posted by scrute at 7:57 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


I also had a camel lie down once while I was on it - I had to move quickly to avoid getting my leg stuck under it. I'm not sure what I did to offend it but after reading this article, it's clear to me that I must have done something.
posted by scrute at 8:02 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]


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