A New Brunswick llama and alpaca walking tour company that took off amid the pandemic has added an exotic new member to its herd.
The owner of Llama-zing Adventures, Josee Gautreau, said the company has purchased a four-year-old dromedary camel named Shamy. The tour company is located in Haute-Aboujagane, N.B.
Gautreau said she is currently training Shamy for camel trail rides, which she plans to add to her schedule in the summer.
“People will get the Egypt experience here,” she said.
With people unable to travel amid COVID-19, Gautreau said her beach and now winter llama and alpaca walking tours have been booking solid for months.
She said when she launched llama and alpaca walking tours last summer amid the pandemic, she never expected the business to take off the way it has.
“I thought I was going to work maybe three days a week, do a couple of hikes here and there just for fun as a side business,” she said.
But she said it quickly turned into a full-time business and her herd keeps growing as she adds more llamas and alpacas, and now Shamy, to her farm family. She said people are stuck at home, unable to travel, and are looking for outdoor activities.
“We are all pent up in our houses and the animals are therapeutic,” she said.
Gautreau said she purchased Shamy from a petting farm in Fredericton and is hoping that adding camel rides to her schedule will encourage more people to staycation on her farm this summer, yet feel like they are a world away.
“They are actually smarter than horses. So just like a horse, you can train a camel to ride, no problem,” she said.
She said the single-humped giant is proving to be a real crowd-pleaser on the farm.
“I thought it was awesome,” said Corrine Duguay, who said she would love to go for a ride on Shamy once he is fully trained.
“I would definitely get on, that should be fun,” she said.
Gautreau, who is a horse trainer, said Shamy should be ready to ride near the end of the summer.
She said she has received messages from people on social media expressing concern that Shamy is out of his element living in New Brunswick in the winter.
But she said camels are “actually really good in the winter as well.”
“They are good for minus-30s as they are good for plus-40s.”