Rampaging Camel Kills Two Men at a Tennessee Farm – The New York Times

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The camel was put down after it charged at law enforcement officers who were trying to move one of the victims, the authorities said.
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Two men were killed by a camel that had gotten loose at a farm in Tennessee on Thursday, the authorities said.
The camel charged at sheriff’s deputies as they tried to help the men it had just attacked at Shirley Farms in Obion, Tenn., the Obion County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
It was unclear what set off the camel’s rampage.
The men were identified as Bobby Matheny, 42, of Ridgely, Tenn., and Tommy Gunn, 67, of Obion, Tenn., the Sheriff’s Office said.
As the deputies tried to move one of the men, the camel charged at them, the statement said. The animal had already “attacked” a Sheriff’s Office vehicle.
“It was at this time officers had to put the camel down for the safety of everyone on scene,” the statement said.
An obituary for Mr. Matheny said that he was a janitor at a high school and that he would “be remembered for his kindness and the friendship that he always showed to all that he met.”
The nature of the men’s injuries was not immediately available. They were pronounced dead at the scene, the statement said.
The Sheriff’s Office declined to say whether the camel was male or female, which an expert said could help explain the animal’s behavior.
Bernard Faye, a retired camel scientist in France, said on Sunday that it was rare for a female camel to be aggressive unless they were defending their offspring.
Male camels, however, are known to be aggressive during the rutting season, a time between November and March when they try to mate with females, said Dr. Faye, a chairman of the International Society of Camelid Research and Development.
“Sometimes they are completely crazy,” he said, adding, “Usually, if the male is correctly managed, there is no problem.”
Still, Dr. Faye said that it was unusual to see a camel assault of this scale.
There have been other attacks, including one in 2014 in which a Chicago man who owned a wildlife park in Mexico died after a camel kicked him, bit him and sat on him. And in 2015, a camel trampled two people to death at a farm in Texas. That camel was a male in the middle of its rutting season.
A man who answered the phone at Shirley Farms on Sunday declined to comment. It was not clear for what purpose the farm had the camel.
On Facebook, Shirley Farms advertises a seasonal pumpkin barn and animal petting areas. In 2017, it offered camel rides.
A 2019 inspection report by the U.S. Agriculture Department said that the farm did not have a barrier separating the camels and the people who were petting and feeding them, adding that there were no employees or attendants around. It was not known if the farm had corrected the issues.
A department inspection report from September showed that the farm had at least one dromedary camel. Dromedary camels weigh about 1,100 pounds and reach at least six feet at the shoulder, according to the department. The farm also had goats, sheep, deer, alpacas, a zebra and a kangaroo, the report said.


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