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My Day With Princess The Camel At The Popcorn Park Zoo

Andy Chase & Princess 2006

Today is a sad day on the Jersey Shore for those who have gone to the Popcorn Park Zoo in Forked River.

Today we mourn the passing of Princess the Camel. Princess died of old age at 27.

You might remember The Hawk used to go to the zoo every Monday morning for Princess to pick the winner for that Monday Night Football game.

We would write the name of each team playing that night on our hand with a marker. We would cover the team name with a graham cracker on each hand, and whichever graham cracker Princess ate, would be the team she would “pick” to win that night’s game.

I was fortunate one Monday to be able to go to the zoo and have Princess pick that night’s game for me. I remember thinking as I was driving to the zoo: “What if Princess doesn’t like me”? Animals have a sense that humans don’t. They pick up on things that we as can’t. What if she sensed something about that she didn’t like? Will she go into attack mode?

You hear stories, and see videos of camels being nasty and spitting. That’s all I could think about. A huge wave of anxiety came over me. I wanted to turn around and go home. As I got to the zoo, I was still so nervous.

The pen that Princess lived in was HUGE. From the entrance of the pen, Princess could have only been 10 yards away, but  it seemed that she was 50+ yards away.

It was a long walk toward her. As I approached her, it was incredible how massive she was, but yet so calm. The first thing I noticed was how gentle her eyes were. It was surreal. We went ahead and wrote the teams names on my hands and covered them with graham crackers.

As gentle as can be, Princess ate the cracker from my hand. It was quite amazing.  All of my fears and anxiety was gone. She was incredible

Afterward she let me pet her a bit.  We took some pictures, I gave her a kiss, and we were on our way. It was day I think about often, and one that I will truly never forget

The Jersey Shore has lost an icon. Princess will definitely be missed .

R.I.P. sweet lady.

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