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13 Feb, 2009 00:16

Camel ‘hostages’ freed on Ukrainian border

Nineteen Russian camels are finally on their way to a Bulgarian circus after being held on the Russian-Ukrainian border for almost two weeks.

Officials in Ukraine banned the movement of the animals from Russia’s Kalmykia republic, claiming they could be infected with deadly African swine fever. They further demanded the animals be transported in specially equipped vehicles.

Initially there were 20 camels, but one – a two-year-old female – died after a week of being held by Ukrainian customs officers.

Over the last two weeks, customs officials have had to attend to some unusual duties including feeding and guarding the animals.

When the special transit vehicles arrived from Bulgaria it took the personnel a while to convince the detained animals to get in. It’s not surprising, since the camels had spent a week locked in a truck at the frontier before being let free to graze in the neutral zone.