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You saw what? A camel on Old Mendon Road, and a zebra too

February 25th, 2011 Posted in Arts and Life

By Noelle Johansen

YOUNG WARD — Cache Valley is hardly the plains of Africa or the Sahara Desert, but a camel and zebra don’t seem to mind proving that Willow Park is not the only zoo here.

Young Ward resident Brad Tolman’s first exotic pet was a camel named Moses. He bought Moses from a woman in Colorado to complete a live nativity in his barn.

“I tried to just rent one for a night but there weren’t any to rent,” Tolman said.

Tolman’s neighbor, Ann Ribera, remembers when Moses found his new home. “We had the sheep and the lambs and the calves and the goats,” Ribera said. “He (Tolman) said, ‘we need a camel!’”

Five years later, Tolman has a zebra and a zonkey (a zebra-donkey hybrid) as well as other, more orthodox farm animals to keep Moses company. Tolman said he has plans to breed more zonkeys.

“He’s very sure-footed,” Tolman said about Zeb, the zonkey. Tolman said he packs Zeb for mountain trips. Moses is trained to “cush,” or to lie down and allow riders to climb on his back. Tolman said Moses is a social animal and the more attention he gets, the happier he is.

“He loves to be loved and doted on,” Tolman said. “It’s been fun to have him and to see the smile that he puts on people’s faces. It makes a lot of people happy when they can see that, and that makes us happy.”

The camel, zebra and zonkey currently graze next to the old Mendon highway at 600 South. Tolman said it’s not unusual to see five or six cars or even school buses stopped, with passengers ogling the unexpected animals.

“It’s just delightful as you drive down the road,” Ribera said. “You do a double take.”

Though Cache Valley is obviously not a camel’s natural habitat, Tolman said Moses is extremely warm throughout the cold winters. Moses’ 4-inch coat is the thickest of all Tolman’s animals.

“The zebra doesn’t have as thick of a hair coat but we treat him just like any other farm animal,” Tolman said. “They both just seem to thrive around here.”

Ribera said Tolman’s wife, Michelle, is relieved when he travels to out-of-state auctions by plane, because it means he can’t bring any new animals home. Tolman said Michelle is very patient and tolerant of his choice of pets.

“I think she’s quite enjoyed it,” Ribera said. “Their world just kind of revolves around their animals and it’s been delightful for us to watch.”

Will Ribera add exotic animals to her own family? “We’ll stick with our puppy dog,” she said.

MORE from our news partner, CacheValleyDaily.com: Zebra, camel and other non-native animals graze near Old Mendon Road by Storee Powell


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