The Proboscis
Friday, October 03, 2003
  Big News

First there were the miniature dogs, then it was on to miniature horses, then the craze for pint-sized companionship moved on to miniature pigs. What’s the next big little thing?

Well, if researchers in the Ornamental Animal program at the Weevil State University Department of Animal Husbandry have anything to do with it, it will be the ancient ship (or, in this case, dinghy) of the desert.

That’s right, the camel!

Doctor Flun Tumnler, along with graduate students Yih Xhun Lao, Lao Mi Na, Xia Fan, Bob Smith, and Chu Xhan Fa have been working for the past three years on a project to breed miniature camels for the domestic pet market.

“We think we have hit upon an idea that will really take off,” said Dr. Tumnler. “They look just like their full-sized kin, but have been specially bred to a much reduced size.”

Indeed they have. The largest, a bull camel named Lucky, stands only three feet high at his shoulder.

But, you might ask, what about the famous camel temperament? Dr. Tumnler: “Oh yes, they still spit and try to snap at you—they are still camels after all. And they have the same camel aroma. But with their diminutive size, they can now be owned by people in apartments who before were unable to enjoy full sized camels.”

Speaking through an interpreter, graduate research assistant Bob Smith had this to say, “We believe we also will be finding a market for them in poorer countries, where to have a large herd of camels would be prohibitively expensive. The smaller camels only eat about 65-87% of the amount a large camel would eat, and their production of dung is likewise reduced by up to approximately 5%.”

Tumnler also speculates they would be very popular with people doing nativity scenes, especially those who have limited yard space.

As with their beast of burden big brothers, the little fellows like to haul things, too.

Another research assistant, Xia Fan, said, “Oh, yeah, like, they like for you to like put stuff on their backs, and they lope around the pasture here—oh my gahhh, they are soooooo cute!”

Dr. Tumnler cautions, however, that they aren’t able to support the weight of a full-grown human rider. “No,” he chuckled, “they can’t do that. But we have had very good success with various monkeys. The capuchins especially seem to enjoy riding around, and we have a grand time putting on races between the animals. Benson over there is our fastest little fellow, but only when Binky is riding him—he can’t seem to tolerate the other monkeys.”

So when will the tiny camels be ready for the huge miniature domestic companion market? Dr. Tumnler confides that a certain nationally-known luxury retailer has asked to sell the first pair, “I can’t say who it is right now, but it rhymes with Knee Man, Mare Gas…get it? Knee Man, Mare Gas?”

This reporter certainly did, and now you will be able to, also! 
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