You've got to love a face like this!
If you're Gil Riegler and Nancy Kobert, you love each and every one of
your 10 camels.
"I really love them a lot. They are very intelligent. They are very
sweet and affectionate. They can be a challenge to work with and they
always keep you on your toes, but they're wonderful animals," said
"Camels are super-easy to work with, they are gentle, and they are
so intelligent. They have a great group dynamic," said Kobert.
Gil and Nancy operate the Oasis Camel Dairy in Ramona, near San Diego,
the only known camel dairy in the United States.
Yes, camels are mammals, which means they give milk.
"The whole thing is we only have about 90 seconds to milk. Because
they're nomadic, the camel needs to keep moving. So she drops her milk
for a very short amount of time," said Riegler.
Humans can consume the milk from these dromedaries, or one-humped camels.
Their owners drink the milk daily and have plans to eventually offer it
to the general public. But for now, they are introducing the camel's milk
in an altered state.
"It just dawned on me that we could make soap. And people love it,"
The camel's milk is combined with lye, vegetable oils and the appropriate
herbs and spices to form the soap. The Oasis Camel Dairy produces soap
in 5 different varieties: milk and honey, lavender, rosemary mint, spice
caravan and gold-frankincense & myrrh.
"Camel's milk soap is extremely luxurious because of the balance
of the protein and the vitamin C. It's got the exfoliating, the antioxidants,
the natural moisturizer. That aside, it's also a heck of a novelty,"
And the camels are a heck of a lot of fun as well.
"The great thing about working with camels is that you have got such
a big, wonderful, affectionate, cuddly animal in there that really wants
a lot of hands-on. And so it's really fun to work with them," said
"Oh, it's wonderful. It's neat to wake up in the morning and you
look out the window and you see all of the camels roaming around here,"
Currently the camels roam on 5 acres of property but Gil and Nancy hope
to expand the operation in both acreage and number of camels in the near
future. In the meantime, they travel around the state educating the public
about the camel. We first met them and their camel Clyde at just such
an event, America's Family Pet Expo in Sacramento.
"I would say, right up there with sharks they are probably one of
the most misunderstood animals on the planet. The first thing that we
hear when we are out at an exhibit, with the public, is 'Do they spit?'
No, they don't spit," observed Kobert.
"Five or six years we've had camels and we've never had a camel spit
at us, ever," offered Riegler.
But they have had lots of shared affection with their animals at this
one of a kind dairy with the camel connection.
For more information on the Oasis Camel Dairy and their soaps, visit www.cameldairy.com.