(From left) Dr. Charmian Wright, Eric Sounder of Flagstaff and Nick Morrow, Dr. Wright’s assistant get young camels acquainted with the tack and teach them to travel quietly in a line. Photo by Pat McNamara

It’s not every day that Elgin sees an influx of camels, but come they did! Dana Brothers, who has recently moved to the area, hosted a small camel gathering at her place in Lyle Canyon on August 27 and 28. 

Her two camels, who came from Washington State, have just taken up residence in Elgin. They were joined at the event by two other camels belonging to Eric Sounder, of Flagstaff, who made the journey down for a little camel training and some camel surgery. There were three Bactrian (two humped) and one Dromedary (one hump) camel present for the event.

Brothers’ camels are not the only camels in the Elgin area. John and Kim Peters brought their dromedary camel, Calypso, whom they had raised from a tiny (if camels can ever be ‘tiny’) calf, with them when they moved from Illinois in 2016, along with their menagerie of dogs, full sized and miniature horses, llamas, chickens, cats, parrots, goats, a pig, a rabbit and some ducks. According to the Peters, the weather here in southern Arizona suits Calypso much better than the climate in Illinois.

Veterinarian Dr. Charmian Wright flew in from Utah, along with her assistant and fellow camel trainer Nick Morrow, to help with the training and also to do nose piercings and to castrate one of the males, a necessary procedure as an uncastrated male camel can be extremely dangerous, especially during rut. 

Dr. Wright is an equine veterinarian. However she is world renowned as a camel specialist, having even flown to the Middle East to work with the Royals’ camels.

The trainers and veterinarian were adept in handling, teaching and practicing with the young camels. ‘Cushing’ ( ying down on cue) is one the main skills, along with leading, that a camel learns so that one can tack up, load or mount the camel. When working with an animal that is 1200 – 2000 lbs. and eight to ten feet tall, respect is also a major requirement taught, preferably at a very young age.

It was an interesting scene as the camels lined up and paced along the valley of the Canelo Hills. Dana Brothers hopes to one day soon trail ride on her camel in the grasslands and hills of Elgin. Don’t be surprised if you see her and her camel out in the area, pacing along with her friends, who will be mounted on more traditional equines.