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Trio of Camels Escape From Nativity Production, Roam the Neighborhood in Search of Grass

nativity camels
Pictured: Cyrus, whom animal trainers described as the leader of the trio of camels; screengrab via Facebook @7NEWS

A trio of camels were roaming the streets of a suburban community near Brisbane, Australia, this week after escaping from their pen at a nearby church. Commuters were surprised to see them casually walking alongside the road during rush hour. 

The camels have been part of a nativity production at Bridgeman Baptist Community Church, which has been hosting performances this month. 

The trio, named Cyrus, Benjamin, and Morgie, had apparently set out to find some grass to graze, eventually succeeding when they happened upon a cemetery roughly a quarter mile away. 

“I’m sure a few people would have thought they were seeing things. I’m sure of it,” Melanie Fitzgibbon of Camelot Camels told 7NEWS. 

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Wayne Morris, who had been tending to the camels, was understandably shaken when he discovered they had escaped. 

“Your heart drops a little bit,” Morris said. “It’s one of those things where you go, ‘Oh no, where are they?’”

Thankfully, the camels were discovered and eventually returned to their pen at the church unharmed—just not before they went from being supporting characters in a nativity reenactment to the stars of their own show. 

“It’s not every day you get to see camels on the side of the road,” said James Harwin, who serves as the church’s operations manager. 

Nevertheless, this is something that happens at one church or another almost every Christmas season. While Jesus once used the image of a camel going through the eye of a needle to illustrate something that is impossible, a camel getting out of his pen is apparently something that is remarkably easy.

Last year, one camel escaped from a nativity scene in Kansas, only being captured by police and animal control officials after a multi-day pursuit that included officers commandeering golf carts as the camel traversed a local course. 

Similar mishaps have occurred in various places throughout the years. 

While most of these instances have ended without any harm coming to the animals or people involved, it is important to note that these situations can become dangerous, as in one case in 1997 when a camel died after being struck by a car. 

The potential dangers of using live animals for nativity performances has led some animal rights activists, including PETA, to condemn the practice. 

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“Live animals don’t belong in church Nativity scenes any more than they belong in the pews or the pulpit,” said PETA Foundation Faith Outreach and Engagement Campaign Coordinator Candice Kelsey in response to the escape of a cow from a live nativity at a church in North Carolina earlier this month.