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Tammy Caldwell isn't sure what attracted her to Humphrey. It certainly wasn't his good looks, and she acknowledges that he doesn't always smell pleasant and at times can be downright cantankerous.
Maybe it was his eyes.
"I don't know why, I just wanted a camel," she said. "Once you see a camel, you fall in love with their eyes. He has the longest eyelashes."
Caldwell grew up on a farm in Anderson County and has always enjoyed being around animals. Her interest influenced her vocational choice and she has worked for veterinarians for the past 15 years. But her fascination with camels had little to do with past experience. It began with a visit to an area attraction.
"I went to see the lights at the (Kentucky) Horse Park," she said. "Camels were there at the petting zoo and I just fell in love with them.
"For three years, I wanted one, but my husband (Ronald) kept saying no, no, no."
This past Christmas, when her church decided to rent a camel for its Nativity scene, Caldwell thought she had an opportunity that might cause her spouse to reconsider.
"They wanted $1,000 to rent one," she explained. "I said, 'We'll get one and donate it to God.'
"We found Humphrey, aka Humpy, in Bruceville, Ind. He was actually the smallest camel they had. They used him for Nativity scenes and a petting zoo."
Ultimately Ronald not only gave in, but claimed Humphrey was a Valentine's Day gift, as he was delivered just a day or two before Feb. 14.
Caldwell said since obtaining Humphrey, she's become increasingly fond of her 1,100 pound pet that stands 7 feet, 4 inches tall at the hump. And he seems to be responding in kind.
"He loves me," she said. "I can do anything with him, but I never let my guard down."
That's because she has observed Humphrey's behavior toward others.
"He prefers women," she explained. "He doesn't like men. He bit my husband, but my dad (Bobby Perry) gets along well with him."
Caldwell said Humphrey is perfectly content to remain within the confines of his pasture on Alton Station Road and poses no threat to her neighbors. But because of his unpredictable nature, the sightseers who frequently drive up to her fence should be cautious and keep a reasonable distance from him.
"He may reach over and kiss you, but he might bite you on the nose.
"He's kind of like a stud horse (in temperament)."
Like horses, Humphrey eats grass hay, apples, and carrots.
However, quite unhorse-like, her camel also has developed a taste for Mountain Dew soft drinks. H also likes to choose his company.
"He likes the cows and mixes in with them," Caldwell said. "He likes our white horse to an extent, but he doesn't like most horses. The draft horses where he used to live would gang up on him. Now he comes toward horses with his teeth bared."
Part of Humphrey's cantankerousness is probably due to the rut he's been in since arriving in the county. Generally, when camels are not in rut, they are better behaved.
"Camels have a rutting season just like deer," Bobby Perry said.
"He throws his palate out and slobbers and slings it," Caldwell said. "He also marks his territory by throwing urine with his tail. I don't know if that will stop when the rutting season is over."
Caldwell said this rut should be Humphrey's last, and that his temperament should soon be much improved.
"He was neutered last Thursday," she said. "Dr. (Aaron) Goodpaster said it was his first camel neuter and it went really well."