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Mona the Camel

Sometimes small communities can produce some pretty outlandish “characters,” and like them or not, they become a part of the “flavor” of the island. But there’s one character here that casts a spell on pretty much everyone who meets her – she’s our beloved dromedary, Mona.

Mona - Photo Courtesy Kathleen Ballard
Mona – Photo Courtesy Kathleen Ballard

Actually, she doesn’t belong to us, she belongs to islander Steve King, who bought her after seeing an ad in Little Nickel, but she’s become a favorite of every island resident and visitor alike. And there’s the problem:

People want to show Mona how much they like her, and the only way they know how to do that is to feed her. But this winter, Mona developed a skin disorder, due in part to diet. Her caretaker, Gregory Scherzinger, suspects there are other factors at play with local wildlife, particularly deer. None-the-less, now that Mona’s hair is growing in again, we would like to caution all of Mona’s visitors to please use sense when giving Mona treats: nix the popcorn, hotdogs, potato chips, candy and all other junk food. According to Gregory, “She’ll pretty much eat anything (hats are a favorite grab) though she would only eat that if she was really hungry. As camels are grazers, good grass is what does best for her. She loves apples and potatoes, though I don’t feed her more than one or two apples when I do, as they have a lot of sugar in them and [are] not that great for her in quantities. Carrots are good.”

Gregory also cautions that Mona is very friendly, but “one should always be conscious of her. She is a big animal and has her own mind. If she doesn’t like something she can grab pretty hard with her mouth, so anyone feeding her or posing for a picture with their back turned while facing the camera needs to be aware and just pay attention.”

If you haven’t met Mona yet, she’s usually hanging out in the pasture on Roche Harbor Road across from San Juan Vineyards. Bring carrots!

You can visit Mona online, To read how she came to San Juan Island, see the San Juan Journal article

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