Environment

At the Calgary Zoo, the camels watch the people

The Calgary Zoo has a pair of resident camels—and these humped mammals love to people-watch

(Photograph by Amber Bracken)

(Photograph by Amber Bracken)

On a crisp autumn day, as elaborate lights are strung up in anticipation of the holiday season, an ungulate cries out.

Pictured above is Zsa Zsa, one of the Calgary Zoo’s resident camels, getting ready for her starring role in the 25th-anniversary ZOOLIGHTS event, which is held in support of conservation programs. While most animals stay inside and shy away from the crowd, Zsa Zsa and Ollie, the zoo’s other camel, always “choose to be up front,” taking in the colourful scene and the holiday music, says spokesperson Alison Archambault. “They really do think they’re the stars of the show.”

For Ollie and Zsa Zsa, the fun is surely in the people-watching. Kids with hot chocolates pull their parents, who are drinking mulled wine or spiked eggnog, toward a prehistoric park with lit-up dinosaurs. Families line up to meet a guy dressed up in red and white. Humans fling axes around for sport, because, per Archambault, “nothing says Christmas like axe-throwing.” What strange creatures.

This exhibition at the Calgary Zoo starts November 2021 and goes on until January 2022.