IamA Camel Tourism Operator, been working with my camel buddies for 7 years now! AMA!
My short bio: Been working for Red Sun Camels for over 7 years now. It’s a family business so whenever people ask about my pets I say I own 2 dogs and 36 camels.
My Proof: http://imgur.com/hg7vWG7
What do they eat? Regular Grass?
Hay is there main staple. They also get camel cubes every second day. (Very similar to dog biscuits)
Where do they get Hay in the middle of the dessert?
It’s trucked up! A lot of people own horses up here also.
It’s a beach side town with many resorts, restaurants and other fine establishment’s.
There’s also the wet t-shirt comp on Thursday. So there’s your Thursday soughted.
Do you laugh at people who ride them like a horse, or do you encourage it?
our camels only do walking, so realistically it doesn’t matter how people ride them, in 7 years I’ve had one crazy Asian guy who jumped up in his seat, starting screaming while doing the titanic arms out hold me jack. Luckily he was on Ghan, who was an old and reliable camel who wouldn’t have been scared if airhorn went of next to his ear.
Do you use camel hair and camel urine as a tool? I’ve head they’re useful creatures all around.
Camel urine not really, although hair can be used to make jumpers and coats, we don’t do that because when we saddle them up we want to be as quick as possible so there’s no time to collect the hair when we brush them.
When they outgrow their usefulness as beasts of burden, do you eat them, or simply put them out to pasture?
Our camels generally work till the age of 30, and are then retired, they spend there days out the back of our property, I’ll take a photo for you soon as I’m going round to do there feed soon.
Can you tell us about your favorite camel?
My favourite camels name is muscles (I’ll take a photo of him soon), he is quite weird, he’s super affectionate, when I’m doing feeds he follows me around trying to put his head on my shoulder, the thing that makes him weird is about 1 in 30 times when you stop scratching him he will kick you down for no reason. I think he does it in a kinda “don’t leave me way” but unfortunate he doesn’t realise he’s 800kg
It is said horses are like 4 year olds, what age would you say camels are?
There like 9 year olds. We always say.
How long do they live?
Anywhere between 30-40 years, can live as old as 50 in some rare cases.
I took a camel ride with my girlfriend in Broome two summers ago, and it was great – except that towards the end of our ride a mother and her young daughter were bucked from a camel in front of us, and I think the mother ended up being hurt fairly badly. How dangerous is riding camels?
Okay first things first I know about this incident although I wasn’t working.
Muscles was the camel, he doesn’t work anymore for this exact reason. About 1-30 camels never figure it out. In 15 years that incident was our only serious incident, so gives you an idea of how rare it is.
An awful incident, but I’m glad to address why and how it happens, gives everyone a better idea.
What ended up happening to her?
She was pregnant at the time, so we were majorly worried. Calling every month.
The baby was born healthy and happy which was fantastic to here. I can’t even imagine the guilt the employee’s of that day would have felt knowing they might have been the cause of a miscarriage.
To be fair, the ride was super mellow otherwise. It seemed like a crazy fluke incident at the time. Just one of those times that someone took a really small risk and didn’t entirely get away with it.
We work 363 days a year (we get Christmas and Broome cup day off) with an average of 2 rides a day. Given the numbers one incident in 15 years in a minimal percentage.
As a rider, what should you do to minimize your chances of pissing off the camel and getting bucked?
As a rider the best thing you can do is sit still really, if a camels gonna buck it’s rarley the fault of the rider. It’s either an internal issue for the camel or an external issue cares it (cars, dogs etc)
If a camel starts to buck what should you do to stay on and try to calm the camel down?
A camel will always stop bucking eventually, best way to hang on is to grip your bar and push your feet hard into the stirips, you’ll only fall off if you lose a stirip.
How is broome cup daý? I like to take a trip out to a few country cups each year, broome might be a cool trip!
Never been, my Dad is a massive punter on the horse, so I hear enough about it already, plus the horse are so unpredictable your better off backing a roughie. Most people go there for the atmosphere and to drink.
So when people are riding these camels and that’s all they’re doing, are they okay with it? I always see camels and elephants at fairs and carnivals just in a pretty small pen walking around in small circles and they seem so sad. But then again I’m not a camel expert and I don’t know how you guys run your business. I’ve just always wondered!
This has always been an argument employees get into as we care about them.
I don’t have a source for this, but I’m 90% sure there was a study done showing that they actually feel like they have something to work for in life, gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment. (I haven’t worded this as well as I would have liked)
A definite example of why they are better of at work then in the wild is although they have to lift people. They walk 1/10 of the distance a day they would in the wild, they have daily food and water, and they live on average 10 whole years longer with us.
On top of this we also roster our camels to make sure the weaker ones are worked less. Our goal is to make sure our camels are as fat and happy as can be.
What’s the weirdest camel fact you know?
Man I was waiting for this question.
Alright, so my favourite fact, is that a severely dehydrated camel, can drink upto 200 litres of water in 10 minutes! To put that into perspective for all those drinkers out there, that is a 30 case of beer in 30 seconds. 365ml’s a second! Reason they can do this is unlike a human there blood cells are shaped oval, meaning they can swell up to 250% there size. Every time I take muscles to the pub it’s like “yeah mate I’ll get a pint for me and a keg for my mate” (joking btw)
The weirdest fact though, is again when a camel is serverly dehydrated, the urine turns into a honey like syrup to preserve a water.
How did you get into this business? And how much money do you make? Have you had camel meat? Are Camels smart or dumb animals?
It’s a family business, I was raised from a young age around camels. There my family.
There meat I have tried, it’s like a leaner steak, nice enough.
All three company’s in total turn over about a million overall. Although that isn’t equally split, it’s more like 40:40:20.
Camels are very intelligent, a great example of this is they are known to premeditate revenge. They will kick you one day and you’ll think “what the fuck was that for!” Then you’ll remember two weeks ago when they were being stubborn and you gave him a clip on the ear.
I’ve heard that since Camels were brought to Australia (as they were not indigenous and are freaking awesome at traversing the hell hole that is the interior), they had managed to over time escape and mate and spur a huge wild population. So large in fact that there is a need to cull them. Some means are which sniping them from helicopters. How do you feel about this practice and are your camels “rescues” in that sense?
Okay. It is hard to say this but the culling and exporting of these camels is a necessity. Camel populations jumped from 5000 to 1.5 million in 60 years. It was becoming such an issue that the death of these camels would have been a certainty as they would have eaten the landscape dry. The death of these camels is to acheive the life of others.
We certainly rescue! Our camel tiny was originally captured for consumption, the day of his slaughter we asked for there biggest camel to buy. They sold us Tiny
I heard that there was some drama going on between all the camel ride companies in Broome. I know there were issues the the local government only allowing one company to run, but I think that only lasted a season. What are each of the competing operators like these days?
Haha you have to be Australian to of heard of that.
Yeah I was in the centre of that, it involved our company and another, I won’t get into too much detail as I would be here all night, but the generally themes were camel theft, serious arson (middle of the night everything caught fire, fire fighters said they couldn’t even point out a direct cause of it, everything was equally lit and the man suspect took a flight out of town for that one night. “Suspicious don’t ya think?”) sexually explicit photos of our employees placed on the track we walk them down ( playing sick mind game)
That was bout 3 years ago. We ended up winning the case, got all our camels back and the guy who did it went to prison. He’s out now working with camels in Alice.
EDIT: didn’t see your last bit till now. All three company get along quite well, it’s a very “stay out of our way and will stay out of yours” mindset.
Aww! Did you get the same camels back? That must’ve been heartbreaking to have them stolen.
Oh yeah. Got them all back.
How sick is this right. The man who did it, faked the death of our best camel (Names issac after Issac Newton, camels generally take between 6 months to a year and a half to train, he took two weeks) and moved him down to his secret farm the day before who took the rest of them with him. We mourned this camel as you would any loved one so you can imagine the smile on our faces when we found out were he had moved all the camels and when we turned up the very first camel we saw.
Tears of joy honest to God when we saw him. It was like seeing a ghost.
How smart are camels? Compared to say, horses or goats? I get that they’re all individuals of course, but are some of the ones you have specifically curious, adventurous?
Omg, I could go on for days on this question. I’ll try and keep it simple.
Camels are considered to be about as smart as a 9 year old kid, as hard as that might be to believe I can certainly see it. They premeditate revenge, they fake injures (kid you not, one camel faked an injury so bad for a year, we got a vet out and he told is the camel was absolutely fine, he still tries it on now and again.)
What the funniest thing one of your camels has ever done?
When we clean out there water troughs they love to roll around in the puddle.
What do you do with the camels when they die?
Not something I feel comfortable talking about, sorry. Very similar to steak
How does one go about buying a camel? Do you breed them?
There are farms all over Australia, but if you buy one you need two. Can’t be left alone. They get sad.
Why are you uncomfortable talking about how you get rid of the body? Do you bury, incinerate, or do you sell them to some super secret group that does terrible things?
Well for one it’s quite personal but I suppose the truth is better then suspicion.
When a camel dies, we dig a massive hole out the very back of our property. We then scoop the camel up in the Bobcat (piece of machinery, not a funeral directing feline) and bury him, place a placard. That’s that. It’s tough because they live for so long. 30-40 years makes it very easy to fall in love with them. I’ll be the first to admit I openly weap for the loss of some.
How difficult is it to handle camels, let alone 36? How much food and water do you go through feeding camels?
Each camel is a different individual and therefore we approach each camel differently. Examples.
Zara: she’s a lead camel and is so good once we put her rope on she walks into her own spot and sits down.
Tiny: psycho in the mornings, will run at you, fuck you up, then spit on your dead corpse. Lovely and docile in the afternoon.
Muscles: doesn’t work, try to put a rope on him and he kicks you down were you stand.
Ned: will look like he’s trying to take your arm off, but the secret is to put your hand in his mouth, all he wants to do is suck your finger like a dummy.
What do you think of Camels as riding animals, training and lifestyle wise, as opposed to other animals? As in do you find them to be easily adaptable to the life style, comfortable with it, etc.
Great Question, to answer it simply have you ever seen the movie “Laurence of Arabia”? The camels in that movie are just as well trained to be ridden as any horse. But it would have taken years of training to get a camel to such confidence and skill.
They have been used for 2000 years as riding animals, much like a horse it’s in there natures.
Do any of your customers ever try to smoke a Camel on a camel?
Before our ride starts we do a talk very similar to a airline. Every one does there’s differently, mines goes like this.
“ALLLLLLRIIOGHTY guy if I could have your attention for one last time, three simples rule for everyone today, that is no smoking, no drinking alcohol and no jumping off!, sure you won’t have a problem with the last one. If you look down and your knuckles are white your probably hanging on too tight, so relax, you are here to enjoy yourself after all. If you would like feel free to take your feet out of the stirips, some people find that more comfortable anyway And finally, if the camels find themselves in the water today you’ll find a life jacket under your seat (it’s a joke at the fact our talk sounds like a planes, there aren’t any life jackets)
People get they can’t smoke.
Have you ever tricked tourists like the camel operators in Egypt, where you charge them before they get on and then charge them more when they want to get off?
We get this a bit, you can tell who they are too cause they aren’t just evil eyeing the camel they evil eye YOU!
We don’t do this, it’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard, customers pay up front that’s it.
How dangerous can they be if they want?
In all honesty, very. They are after all animal that weigh between 750kg-1T, can move up to speeds of 70km. And caught in the wrong position they could easily kill you. I’ve been kicked too many times to count and bitten once. The only time I have honestly felt threatend for my life was when muscles lost it and stomped me to the ground. He didn’t keep going luckyily but if he had I think I would have died. Or at least been paralysed.
Working with them, do you end up smelling like camel?
Yes, omg yes, and it sucks, my parents complain, my girlfriend complain’s, takes a lot of scrubing.
What country has the best and worst tourist?
Best tourists? American, they seem so interested every time. It makes our day when the customer shows interest.
Worst: Generally Asians, mainly because when they travel in groups there is maybe one, two who speak English. So either you awkwardly hand gesture basic facts, or get them to translate down the train, which is quite ignorant of other customer, also when they do speak English they generally don’t seem to care, like everything I say is a hoax. They are generally only interested in photos.
What is a common misconception people have about camels?
The spitting thing is the biggest one. Everyone thinks they spit. It’s the most common question I get.
Why can’t they spit?
They just can’t. Sorry I can’t go into more detail.
Setting aside appearances, what’s really going on in this camel’s mind in this video?
He’s not happy. It’s clear. A happy camel is a quiet one. My best guess? The camel hates affection and it can’t do anything to stop the woman as it’s tied down. Video made me sad..
Do you control your camels mating? Are they neutered or anything or do you just get free baby camels once in a while?
All our boys get the snip, otherwise there extremely aggressive. It why all our camels are so calm.
So do the females get the turkey baster, or do you buy new camels?
We buy them or capture them from the wild.
Where are you located?
We are located in Broome, a small pearling town that turned tourist about 20 years ago. They still do pearling but not such a large scale.
People love it here because it the middle of winter it’s 26c and not a cloud in the sky for 3 months.
Is it bad for camels to be captured from the wild? Kind of like how no zoos are capturing gorillas or killer whales from the wild anymore?
Nope, and I’ll explain why.
Camels in Australia are currently being culled as there are too many in the wild to safely sustain there survival. By us taking camels out of the wild, it ensures the safety from the cull, and increases the survial chances of every other camel.
What’s your opinion on Terry Pratchett’s take on camels being hyper-intelligent beings who hate everything?
This made me laugh really hard, I can honestly say it wouldn’t surprise me.
I went on a camel ride in Broome when I was 10. They walked us through a nude beach – the sight of those old wrinkly naked men scarred me for years. Was that your company?
Yes… We operate on the nude side. Depending how long ago that was come on down now. There’s oldies but there’s also European Backpacker. Your welcome.
Any worries about your camels carrying MERS?
Great thing about Australian camels is they were not originally from Australia, and so when they brought the first load of camels to Australia, none of them had any illness, due to this unlike Africa and the Middle East there are no diseases to affect them.
When you see a lady with a camel toe do you think, that looks nothing like a camel toe?
Yeah I’ve always wondered that, I can understand to an extent, but yeah realistically a camels toe doesn’t look all that similar to a camel toe.
Do camels grow beards?
Yeah mate, some of them have these rough Curley ones, others have soft ones.
Do you milk your female camels? I have read that people drink camel milk & eat the camel cheese.
You can, but we don’t, like the hair thing we aren’t interested, our girls work hard enough without having to also be milked.
Were there any humps you had to get over when getting into the business?
You very funny man.
Can we see a picture of your camels?
Posted a few threw the thread, but here’s a special one just for you!
And anyone else who see this.. http://imgur.com/3Edb69a
What are the names of your camels?
Alright we have 36 camels, I’ll try to get them all.
Alice Alice 2 Muscles Lofty Felix Whitey Bazza Wangai Ned Burke Wills Zara Horris Lukey Xena Tiny (2nd biggest) Cloud Wun Jabby Tonku Seta Jerry Hall Coco Kabul Khan Rodney Bully (really sweet and shy) Mission Harley Archey Savannah Chris Wills Jacko Matilda
How do you tell the difference between all of them? Do they wear name badges?
Insane as this sounds, they all look different to me. It comes with time. I can name them all while sitting on the fence.
I am a Recreation Managament major with a concentration in Commercial Recreation and Tourism. What are some of the effects of the industry? Good or bad, social, economic, environmental, etc.
Ummm, okay, let me think.
Good : Camels live about 10 years longer in captivaty, cause of a constant source of food, water and veterinary care.
Environmentaly, the camels have very little impact on the beach life, and camels are considered a pest in Australia, so taking them out of the wild assists in that.
How much can a camel carry weight wise?
We limit our camels to a maximum of 95kg per person to ensure the wellbeing.
A camel can carry 400-500kg comfortably, but only if loaded while standing.
The Australian record is 895kg, but unfortunatly the camel had a heart attack and died.
Did you ever have to turn down a customer because of their weight? I imagine that to be very awkward for everybody involved.
When a customer books with us one of the first question we ask is “how much is the weight of you and your partner.” If they try to lie to us and show up and we are suspicious, we retain the right to ask them to step on our scales, 99 cases out of 100 will be obviously correct. Some might consider it rude but it’s about looking after our camels.
Do camels cry?
Yeah, they will cry when there upset.
How much does a camel cost?
Untrained, anywhere between 200-2000 Trained, anywhere between 2000-20000
That is AUD, for anyone wanting to translate.
It is on my bucket list to ride a camel drunk, without paying for said ride, in order to get to and from two destinations. Where and how would you recommend that I achieve this goal?
Come to it with us! You can’t drink on the camels it’s one of our three big rules (no smoking, no drinking, no jumping off)
But if you get wasted before hand and aren’t too much trouble you’d be right as rain haha.
The without money thing is an issue… But if you came in the offseason there is a good chance you could sneak on… Wouldn’t be easy though.
Muscles seems like an interesting fellow, do you have any more stories about him?
When he first got here I was about 12, and every day I would go see him. I would walk over to the fence and he would see me coming, run over to the fence till he’s was about 5 metres away, then casually Strut over like that spastic running didn’t excist.
Is camel hump as delicious as people make it out to be? Do camels carry the bubonic plague?
A camels hump is pure fat… So whoever is telling you this has interesting food choices…
No… Although they do carry TB, but even then the camels body will trap it in a layer of fat and skin so it can’t escape.