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Camel Racing

Updated on August 24, 2011

Do you know what do camels store in their humps?

Fat.Camels’ humps don’t store water, but fat, which is used as an energy reserve. Water is stored throughout their bodies, particularly in the bloodstream, which makes them very good at avoiding dehydration.

Camels can lose 40 per cent of their body-weight before they are affected by it, and can go up to seven days without drinking. When they do drink, they really go for it – up to 225 litres (around 50 gallons) at a time.

Here are a few quite interesting facts about camels, which have nothing to do with their humps:

  • Before elephants acquired their reputation for long memories, the ancient Greeks believed it was camels that didn’t forget. Persian hunting hounds – Salukis – hunted on camels. They lay on the camel’s neck watching for deer, and then leapt off in pursuit when they saw one. A Saluki can jump up to 6 metres (20 feet) from a standing start. In 1977 in Zoo Vet, David Taylor observed that ‘camels may build up a pressure cooker of resentment toward human beings until the lid suddenly blows off and they go berserk.
  • The camel handler calms it down by handing the beast his coat. ‘The camel gives the garment hell – jumping on it, biting it, tearing it to pieces.
  • When the camel feels it has blown its top enough, man and animal can live together in harmony again.

Camel Race

Camel-racing in the United Arab Emirates has started to use robot riders in place of the traditional child jockeys. The remotely operated riders were developed following a ban on the use of jockeys under sixteen years of age, imposed by the UAE Camel Racing Association in March 2004.

These laws are regularly flouted and there is a brisk child-slave trade, with children as young as four being kidnapped in Pakistan and kept in Arab camel camps. The only qualifications needed to become a jockey are not to weigh much and be able to scream in terror (this encourages the camels).

The famous line from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, ‘it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God’, is possibly a mistranslation, where the original Aramaic word gamta, ‘sturdy rope’, was confused with gamla, ‘camel’. This makes more sense, and is a comforting thought for the well-off.

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