THEY count footballers, actors and even ex-prime ministers as their fans – but some south Warwickshire residents still get the hump despite their celebrity status.
The Fossett family have the usual pets – dogs, cats, horses, chickens, together with camels at their Idlicote home.
For the past 16 years, Joe – who is from a former circus family – his wife Rebecca and their two children Daisy and Leo have shared their farm with eight camels – Blizzard, Baxter, Bertie, Kazach, Ruby, Kokoso, Max and Cleo. Together they make ‘Joseph’s Amazing Camels’.
The company came into being some 16 years ago, soon after Joe and Rebecca met.
Rebecca told the Observer: “We met in 1997 and I was going to be a wild animal presenter. We were going to work together with lions but switched to camels because they are easier animals and there’s less chance of being attacked.”
They began doing festive ‘Three Kings’ shows – with a procession including actors playing the three wise men and shepherds leading the camels.
But in recent years the family have branched out and now also do camel polo and treks across the countryside.
The ‘Amazing Camels’ are usually quiet between April and October, with Christmas being their busiest time of year.
When not working, the animals live in a 15 acre field all year round and at night they stay in a stables – a far cry from their normal surroundings of the desert, but despite this Rebecca says they love their home.
She said: “The camels are out during the day and at night they go into stables. They are used to the weather here because in the desert it is really hot in the day and freezing at night, we worry more than they do about it.
“When it starts raining we get them into the stables, but sometimes they refuse to come in and enjoy standing in it.
“Our camels are much loved pets who also work, they are very tame and love a fuss. They are very special animals who deserve much respect for their intelligence and lovely natures. We are privileged to have them and be able to share them with so many people who thoroughly enjoy meeting them.”
When at home the camels can sometimes be seen around the town, with local pub The Horseshoe even having a sign ‘Dogs and Camels welcome’.
And Daisy and Leo were sometimes taken to school on the animals when they were younger.
But there could soon be more than just the eight camels – with 18 year-old Daisy who is at Chipping Camden School planning to open a camel dairy.
It would be the first such dairy in the UK, with camel milk currently only available if it has been imported from outside the EU.
The family say if the dairy were popular they would take on up to 100 camels – which can grow to seven feet tall and weigh 2,000lbs.
Rebecca said: “Camel milk is very good for you and has a lot of health benefits.
“We think there could be a real market for it in the UK and are hoping starting a camel dairy will be the next stage of the business.”
Visit www.jacamels.co.uk to find out more.