Another roadside attraction? Mona's new mate | Gerbil

Mona the camel and her new pasture mate, Lisa, a pygmy giraffe, graze together in their field on Roche Harbor Road.  - Contributed photo
Mona the camel and her new pasture mate, Lisa, a pygmy giraffe, graze together in their field on Roche Harbor Road.
— image credit: Contributed photo

By Scooter Harasmuss, Gerbil editor

If a camel can do it, why not a giraffe?

That was the consensus at the headquarters of San Juan Island's Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center after one of the region's leading animal-cloning laboratories, faced with bankruptcy, shut down its operation and sent out an alarm about the future care of its experimental herd.

"We knew that we couldn't take on caring for them here or go too far in trying to find a home for those poor creatures," Wolf Hollow's Shannon Achen said. "But knowing how well Mona acclimated to the island, we thought the giraffe might like it here too."

Achen made a few calls to set the wheels of relocating the genetically modified pygmy giraffe in motion. At 450-plus pounds, and standing no more than five feet tall, the giraffe, which goes by the name of "Lisa", has both a unique appearance and special needs, Achen added.

"It doesn't look like you're typical giraffe, except for its markings," she said.

But for Lisa's new caretakers, Lonnie and Jean Ooglemon, the giraffe's diminutive size and bulging girth make it all the more charming. And Mona, the island's beloved Asian camel who's long been a fixture and tourist attraction in the Oogleman's pasture on Roche Harbor Road, is mesmerized by its new field mate, Jean Ooglemon said.

"Mona seems delighted," she said. "I think just trying to figure out what that giraffe is all about might add a dozen years to her life. It's crazy having the two of them out there."

Not everyone is as thrilled. But for now, Kyle Alpenglow, engineer of the voter-approved countywide ban on genetically modified organisms, is willing to turn a blind eye.

"Sure, it needed a home," Alpenglow said. "But having it here flies in the face of the GMO ban. I guess the poor thing can be the poster child for what can go wrong when you mess with Mother Nature."

Regardless of precedent, the combination of Mona and Lisa at home in a field on a rural island in heart of the Pacific Northwest's Salish Sea has become San Juan Island's most talked about tourist attraction. Morrocco's Ahmed and Monique Kambella, vacationing from their hometown of Casablanca, were both stunned and enchanted to happen upon the two.

"I couldn't believe my eyes at first," Ahmed said. "I mean, we came 3,000 miles and then, 'boom', we're back home."






— Editor's note: Gerbil stories are published periodically by Journal staff in observance of April Fool's Day



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