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Tiger Truck Stop's Caspar the camel, one of the animal attractions at the truck stop, looks no worse for wear, seen Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019 in Grosse Tete. Last week when a Florida truck driver and her husband crawled into a camel's enclosure at the truck stop, the camel sat on the woman, who used her teeth to bite the camel's testicles to escape. According to the Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office, the woman's husband threw doggy treats under Caspar the camel's fence, which is about 6 feet high. The lady encountered trouble after entering the enclosure to retrieve the dog.

A Florida woman who freed herself from a camel by biting its testicles at an Iberville Parish truck stop last month said Wednesday she suffered broken bones and had to have her lungs drained of blood after the 600-pound animal knocked her over and sat on her.

Gloria Lancaster, 68, speaking publicly for the first time since the Sept. 18 encounter, told The Advocate her injuries will require months of physical therapy and medical treatment. She said she doesn't fault the camel for defending its pen after she and her husband went in to fetch their dog, Baby Girl, a 14-year-old Japanese Chin that weighs no more than 10 pounds. The dog is also deaf.

"This is not about the camel. I do not want to hurt the camel. That's not what this is about," Lancaster said. "The animal was only doing what God designed him to do. It was taking care of his territory."

The bizarre encounter unfolded after she and her husband had finished eating dinner at the Tiger Truck Stop Cafe in Grosse Tete. The couple went near a pen holding Caspar the camel, one of several exotic animals at the truck stop along Interstate 10 west of Baton Rouge.

Video footage provided by the truck stop's owner shows the couple approach the fence to see the camel, and their unleashed dog appears to stray away from them and slip into the pen. Lancaster said she tried getting her deaf dog's attention before she and her husband crawled under a clearance at the bottom of the fence that's guarded by a single strand of barbed wire.

The couple tried shooing away the 6-foot tall dromedary, swatting at it with a baseball cap, which appeared to startle it. The animal then knocked Lancaster to the ground and sat on her.

"I told my husband, 'Get the dog; get out of here. I'm already dead,'" she said in a telephone interview Wednesday, a few days after being discharged from a hospital in Pensacola, Florida, near her home. "My whole body's crushing. I felt it. I could hear it."


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With her hands pinned, Lancaster said she bit what she had to get the camel to move.

"It was its testicles, and I bit them and he got off of me," she said. "And I would do it again."

Medical crews brought her to a Baton Rouge hospital for injuries to her abdomen, neck, shoulder, arm and head. She said she continued receiving medical treatment for broken ribs that punctured a lung, as well as a broken collar bone when she returned to Florida.

The Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office alleged the couple had been tossing treats to their dog and took photos of bone-shaped biscuits inside the pen. But Lancaster disputed this claim, saying her dog is toothless and can't eat them.

Lancaster said the camel had tried stomping on the dog, but authorities said the couple and their pooch invaded the camel's space, and cited them for trespassing and violating leash laws.

Lancaster said she worried that by the time the got help from a truck stop employee the dog would have already been dead.

She said she believes that she and the truck stop were both to blame: Lancaster because she entered the pen, the truck stop because the enclosure wasn't designed to prevent her entry. 

"There's things I did wrong, and there are things they did wrong," Lancaster said. "Why not come together and see if we can fix this?"

The confrontation generated national fascination and appeared in brief segments on late-night talk shows and recently Saturday Night Live. In recent weeks, the truck stop has seen a spike in visitors, according to Tiger Truck Stop owner Mike Sandlin.

He said the couple should have asked an employee to help them get their dog and should have had it on a leash, especially since it couldn't hear.

Sandlin said that, in the 30 years he's kept an array of exotic animals at the truck stop, he's never had any issues with animals attacking visitors.

The roadside menagerie has, however, drawn fire from animal rights groups who for years have sought to remove the animals, including a tiger that lived there before it was euthanized in 2017.

A veterinarian checked on Caspar and prescribed it antibiotics as a precaution but found the camel appeared to be in good health.

Email Youssef Rddad at yrddad@theadvocate.com.