A camel which was separated from its mother and drugged in order to join a travelling petting zoo is now living a carefree life – after being rescued by an attorney.
Concerned Rob Heering, 58, spotted two-month-old Sheik being sedated by an employee at a fair in West Palm Beach, Florida.
He asked if the camel was unwell and the employee admitted the syringe contained a sedative to stop it hiding from visitors at the back of the enclosure.
Rob also noticed the camel was too young to be apart from his mother, as calves typically nurse for between six to nine months.
He was so touched by the animal’s plight he tracked down the company running the fair and demanded they sell him the abused animal.
Although he didn’t have space to home little Sheik, he managed to find a stall for the camel at a local equestrian center which he cared for the animal for three years.
In January, Rob and his wife Stephanie Heering, 55, relocated from Florida to a farm in her hometown of Richfield, Connecticut.
The 8ft tall camel, no aged three and weighing 1700lbs, has been living it up in his own barn on One Hump Farm since April with his alpaca chum Humphrey.
Rob said: “I was at a regional fair in Florida when I first spotted the camel.
“I noticed one of the workers use a syringe to inject him and I asked him was he sick.
“They told me that I wasn’t supposed to see that and told me it was actually a sedative.
“I thought it was disgusting and animal abuse.
“To make matters worse he was only about eight weeks old and had been taken away from his mother.
“I tracked down the company that operated this petting zoo and I offered to buy the camel. I paid for him myself.
“I had some friends at a local equestrian center and polo farm who were willing to rent me some stall space where he spent three years.
“We’ve recently decided to move back to Connecticut, where we are from.
“We’ve moved to a farm specifically designed for Sheik with a barn.”
Robb and Stephanie, who works in real estate, open the three-acre farm up to visitors on Saturdays which he says social Sheik loves.
“He’s a real character.
“He loves human interaction.
“I’ve kind of imprinted on him now, he sort of looks at me like I’m his mother because I bottle fed him when he was a baby.
“Every weekend we have so many curious visitors to our farm to see him.”
Since rescuing Sheik in January 2015, Robb and Stephanie registered their own charity International Camel Rescue.
Robb said: “It is definitely our plan to rescue more animals.
“At the moment we’re working on a few cases around the world but also at home here in the US with animals in a similar position that Sheik was in.”