The camel population in Ireland has been growing steadily since the country’s Camel Safari Park opened back in 2009. Wicklow, which is located just south of the Safari Park, was not happy about this development and held a protest on Tuesday to voice their displeasure. The camel owners are being blamed for everything from an increase in rat populations to an outbreak of bubonic plague. This event is causing some tension among locals who want to keep camels out, while others believe the hump-back creatures cause no harm.
The outrage started early Tuesday morning when an argument between camel owners and locals broke out. The Irish Camel Owner’s Association (ICOA) had planned to hold a meeting in the town center. Still, they were forced to move locations after threats of violence from some members of the community. The potential for violence did not stop protestors from gathering together with signs that read “Dump the hump!” and chanting slogans like, “Camels, go home!”
Another reason camel owners are upset is that they feel like the townspeople do not understand them or their animals. “They call us camel-dumpers, which is quite childish,” explained Leonard Finnigan, a camel owner and chairman of the ICOA. According to Mr. Finnigan, the standoff has come to a clash that the town of Wicklow hasn’t experienced since the 1978 protests to stop the construction of a hot air balloon factory. He believes that the camel owners will continue to fight against the complaints from locals and has said, “We own these camels as pets.”
The protests turned borderline catastrophic when an anti-camel protester brought “camel meat sandwiches.” Still, we know his mother worked overtime to make ham sandwiches for him and his buddies. Violence ensued when ICOA members spotted the signs saying, “we eat camels! and camel meat sandwiches!” ICOA members ran to the protestors and started a brawl with fists, camel whistles, camel bells, camel pebbles (not really), and an oversized plush camel named “Camille.” The whole conflict was broken up by police officers who showed up with what looked like pepper spray but was just watered-down baby formula.
Local authorities said they would continue their investigation into the violence that ensued on Tuesday morning. They continue to look into complaints from locals about camels in town disrupting life flow, such as traffic jams caused by herds crossing streets or taking long walks through garbage piles.