Camel herd burned out in Valley Fire needs food, water, fencing

A fundraiser is underway to help a herd of camels that has been left with little food and water since the Valley Fire destroyed much of its home on the slopes of Cobb Mountain.

Teresa Fogolini, a Santa Rosa resident whose daughter, Aria Simpson, 29, worked with the herd, launched a GoFundMe account, raising more than $13,000 within two days. However, she said more money is needed to feed the animals at Sacred Camel Gardens on Seigler Springs Road, northwest of the fire-ravaged Middletown.

'The immediate needs are hay and water,' Fogolini said.

The 40 acres of green pastures and woodlands where the 18 bactrian (two-hump) camels roamed free have disappeared.

Water also is hard to come by, although firefighters did stop by on Tuesday to fill the water troughs, said Stuart Camps, Sacred Camel Gardens' managing director.

'Water (still) is an issue,' he said. 'Our pump and tank disappeared in the fire.'

In addition to food for the camels, six rescued horses and a small goat named BamBam that live at the facility, they hoped to use the money to buy a 500- or 1000-gallon water tank and fencing to replace what was lost in the fire, Camps said.

Camps, 52, who lives on the property, has worked with the camels for the past two decades. He said half the herd was born at the facility, founded by Avatar Adi Da Samraj as a way to help people develop a deeper understanding and respect for the camels. The other half were brought as calves from Colorado and southern California.

He stayed outdoors with the camels that night after the fire broke out Saturday.

'I couldn't leave,' said Camps, who raised and trained the camels, which initially took off when the fire came roaring up the valley. But they returned, and remained calm throughout the rest of the frightening ordeal.

Now, the challenges is getting through the road blocks to drop off food, Fogolini said. However, she voiced hope the roadway would be cleared by Friday.

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