Animals are a staple at the annual State Fair of Texas, but aggressive behavior inside the petting zoo in the 2019 version has some fairgoers upset, for the second time in two years.
An attendee who went to the fair on October 7 called it a "perfect day at the Fair," save for one thing: the fact that docile animals were enclosed in the same pen as aggressive camels who were biting the other animals.
"They need to move the llamas and alpaca out of the pen with the biting camels," said Carol Bell-Walton in a post on Facebook. "The camels were terrorizing the smaller animals. It was hard to watch. We reported it, but we can’t be back tomorrow to see if adjustments were made."
Called "Home on the Range Barnyard, Little Hands on the Farm" and located in building 41 of the Coliseum, the exhibit has llamas and alpacas contained in the same pen as Dromedary camels.
As actual maps on the pens show, these animals come from different parts of the world, and would seem to have no place being cooped up together, much less be on display at a state fair in Texas.
Camels are generally not aggressive, but like all wildlife, there is always the potential. In 2015, two people in Wichita Falls who owned a camel breeding facility died after being trampled to death by camels.
This is not the first time the petting zoo at the State Fair of Texas has been host to animal cruelty issues. In 2017, a young giraffe in distress was pacing so frantically in her tight enclosure that she had to be removed from the display entirely.
The petting zoo is supplied by Hedrick Exotic Animal Farm based in Kansas. An employee there said that any issues should be brought to the attention of attendants working at the State Fair.
But when fairgoers who witnessed the same camel biting behavior pointed it out to the attendant on duty, he did not respond.
A video that documents the biting shows the camel and other genteel animals enclosed in a tiny space, with the camel pursuing and biting the other animals trapped in the pen.
State fair VP of PR Karissa Condoianis says that the staff is looking into the situation. "We've just been made aware of this and we are investigating," Condoianis says. "We appreciate people bringing things to our attention."