Anyone who’s ever taken a touristy camel ride on vacation in a desert country or met up with a dromedary in a petting zoo might be under the impression that these long-necked animals are ornery creatures who’d just as soon spit at you as nuzzle.
But Aladdin the camel (who yes, does have a historical basis for residing at Mount Vernon through the holiday season – read on), is perhaps the friendliest animal ever to grace the estate. Overly eager to nudge, nibble the hand of or lick anyone who comes to pet him, it doesn’t take a stretch of imagination to conceive that people make Aladdin really happy. And considering the number of visitors who will pass through the estate during the holiday season, he should be in dromedary heaven.
We can’t know whether the camel that George Washington paid 18 shillings to have stop by the estate in 1787 was of such an agreeable disposition. Although records indicate that Washington was a fan of exotic animals, having paid to see a variety of creatures throughout his life, little is known of the camel’s visit since the only record that we have of it is a cryptic, December 29 entry in Washington’s ledger, which reads, “By the man who brot. a Camel from Alexa. for a show … 0.18.0.”
Unlike the 18th-century camel, Aladdin will be at Mount Vernon for a while. Catch him on the estate’s 12-acre field until January 6.