UA grad student's 'hobby' turns out rare white camel

By Michelle Roberts

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Six-day-old Newton was born around three and half feet tall, which is not unusual for a baby camel. What is unique about Newton is that he, unlike either of his parents, has white fur.

Nyles Bauer, the agriculture and biosystems engineering graduate student who bred the camel, said Newton is one of only a few white camels in the country.

Newton who was named after Wayne and not Isaac will be weaned in about four months. Bauer said that Newton will then be paired up with a female that is now three months old, and the two will be sold.

He said he likes to sell them in pairs because they are herd animals and he does not like to see them living in an owner's yard alone.

Newton will be at breeding age in about three or four years, but won't be considered full grown until he is about five. By then, he will be eating close to 40 pounds of alfalfa per day.

While camels consume a large amount of food, they are legendary for their ability to go without water they can go for up to 10 days without it and if need be, even longer without food.

But according to Bauer, legends about camels spitting and water being stored in their humps are false. He said they are able to go without water because they can store a lot of fluid in their tissue along their sides and their hump. Whether a camel is well-fed and well-watered is visible by how plump its sides and hump are.

Bauer said he began working with camels four or five years ago, because he had always wanted one.

And what began as a hobby now pays for Bauer's schooling.

He said that a pair of camels can be sold for up to $50,000, but currently the market for them is a little flat. He said wealthy people like to buy them to keep in their yards, or they are bought for use as rides at circuses and carnivals.

"People like to buy them when they are young, when they are cute. They go down in price (as they get older)," Bauer said.

Bauer's camels pay for their feed by performing on their own Christmas tour. They usually do a series of Christmas pageants across Arizona at various church-es, playing sidekicks to the wisemen.

Bauer also trains them so they can be used as rides at carnivals. In fact, Bauer said Newton's mother may be at Spring Fling this year.

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