Video surveillance capturing a bizarre encounter at an Iberville Parish truck stop shows a Florida couple trying to retrieve their deaf dog from a camel's enclosure before the startled 600-pound animal responds to the intrusion by sitting on the wife, prompting her to bite its genitalia to free herself.
Authorities allege Gloria Lancaster, 68, and Edmond Lancaster, 73, were feeding their unleashed dog some treats near a pen belonging to Caspar the camel before the small pooch slipped under the fence and they crawled in after it. Video footage provided by the truck stop's owner Thursday shows the Pensacola, Florida-area couple not notice their dog stray away until it was on the camel's side of the fence.
The couple told Iberville Parish sheriff's deputies the camel attacked the dog, but the sheriff's office said the couple invaded the camel's space last Wednesday and cited them for trespassing and violating leash laws.
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Caspar, the largest animal at the roadside menagerie, is used to entertaining hundreds of visitors each week when they pull off Interstate 10 for a rest at the Tiger Truck Stop, 16 miles west of Baton Rouge. But the peculiar attraction has drawn fire from animal rights groups who for years have sought to remove the animals, including a tiger that was euthanized in 2017.
Tiger Truck Stop owner Mike Sandlin said the establishment hasn't had any issues with his animals harming people, including Caspar, which he describes as docile, like a big dog.
He and authorities say the camel was just defending itself.
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Video surveillance shows the couple appearing to shoo away the camel by swatting it when they tried to get their dog. During the frantic retrieval, the camel turns around and knocks Gloria Lancaster down and then sits on her for several seconds as her husband appears to try moving the massive mammal off her.
She told deputies she bit the camel's genitals to free herself, according to witnesses and statements they gave to law enforcement.
"Edmond stated that his wife bit the camels (sic) private parts in desperation to get the camel off of her as it bit him on the left elbow," an affidavit says.
The video shows that after the camel stood up his wife grabbed the dog and went to the other side of the fence.
Gloria Lancaster suffered non-critical injuries and was brought to a hospital. Edmond Lancaster said the camel had bitten him, but law enforcement officers found his injuries appeared to have been caused from crawling under the barbed wire. According to the affidavit, she later told people at the truck stop she had broken her ribs and then she began smoking a cigarette.
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Sandlin said the couple should have just gone inside the cafe and asked an employee for help getting their dog. He also faulted the couple for allowing the dog off its leash and not paying attention to it.
The surveillance footage shows Edmond Lancaster stay in the enclosure for several minutes after his wife crawled out and shows him shoving and pushing the more than 6-foot-tall dromedary. Also known as Arabian camels, dromedaries, the tallest of three species of camel, have one hump.
Deputy Louis Hamilton Jr. told The Advocate earlier this week that when he asked Edmond Lancaster why they had thrown dog treats into the fenced area, Lancaster responded by saying: "I wasn’t thinking."
Authorities found several bone-shaped dog treats inside the enclosure.
A veterinarian checked on Caspar and prescribed it antibiotics as a precaution but found the camel appeared to be in good health.