Secrets of Central Park – Camels on Sheep Meadow

Perusing our archive of Central Park Stereopticon pictures recently I came across this singular photo of a camel, seeming quite relaxed on a stroll through Central Park.  As part of the park’s menagerie (which later became the Central Park Zoo), camels visited Sheep Meadow periodically. This particular camel appears to be roaming the park quite freely. Camels were popular at the menagerie, and they got lots of attention in the press; newspapers updated New Yorkers on when new camels came to the park, when a baby camel was born, and when a beloved camel died as evidenced by this brief, but poignant, notice in the NY Times:

Grief of Mate and Offsprlng Acute – Museum Declines Carcass
Volstead, the 14-year-old Bactrian camel who had long figured as one of the chief attractions at the Cen­tral Park Zoo, died yesterday after four days’ illness. Volstead, who was born in the zoo here, was the last of the male camels of the Central Park herd. He is survived by his mate, Jeanette, and an 11-months-old offspring, Jeanette 2nd. The grief of the survivors was described by Head Keeper Robert Hurton as acute.
The Museum of Natural History having declined to accept Volstead’s carcass, the camel will be buried at Barren Island.”
Published: May 23, 1930 Copyright © The New York Times

I think my favorite part of the whole camel saga was the name “Volstead”. This was thanks to the efforts of the aforementioned Robert Hurton, known around the Menagerie as “Bob the Moniker King”. Besides his sensitivity to the bereavement of the Volstead clan his finest moment might have come in the services of “Tiny” the Hippo. While he may not have displayed exceptional talent in nicknaming this particular charge he did perform nobly in the matchmaking department. As reported by the NY Times Mr. Hurton noticed that Tiny seemed apparently lonely and actually had a suitable mate sent all the way from Hamburg, Germany.


They were also apparently employed as part of the ongoing landscaping efforts:

Working Camel













And as a special ride attraction on Sheep Meadow.

Camel ride on Sheep Meadow


Central Park Ramble Tour

Rustic Arch - The Ramble in the Ramble
John B. Moore
Ramble Arch in Central Park.

This Sunday enjoy a tour of one of the few spots in the city where visitors can get happily lost, the Ramble, at thirty-six acres, offers a variety of intimate scenic enclaves that include the Gill, a tiny stream the wanders through the area, and the Ramble Arch. Located on the west side of the Ramble, hidden in the dense foliage of trees and shrubbery, the Ramble Arch carries a narrow walkway above with an intersecting footpath below it is one Central Park’s most picturesque bridges.

Created by Olmsted and Vaux as an untamed counterpart to the more formal designs of the Mall and Bethesda Terrace the Ramble was still the product of painstaking planning. Virtually every feature was carefully placed to give the illusion of untouched, completely natural woodland. At almost every turn along its meandering trails the visitor is presented with another visual treat.

The Ramble is also a bird watchers paradise where more than 270 species have been spotted in one year alone. The city is right in the middle of one of North America’s busiest migratory routes and the birds, like millions of other of the city’s visitors, stop by to take advantage of the many amenities. The Ramble offers an inviting spot water and eat in preparation for the trip north.

Amble through the Ramble Tour
Belvedere Castle, mid-Park at 79th Street.

Pass over streams, under arches, through the woods along a
maze of pathways in this secluded 38-acre woodland respite.

Call 212-772-0210 for directions.

Accessiblity level * * *

Date: Sunday, October 10, 2010
Time: 2:00 PM