IT WAS a sight better suited for a movie set in the desert, but onlookers in Newport were in for a real surprise yesterday after two camels were spotted walking down the street.
The pair of two-humped Bactrian camels had been grazing on patches of grass near the Pill Millennium Centre after being taken for a walk by circus workers.
Matt Wulff, of WT Laminates in Courtybella Terrace, Pill, said: "It was bizarre. Myself and a colleague were on customer service so we were trying to stay professional, but it was hard not to notice two camels walking past the window."
Newport council said such animals are licenced under the Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925. Because camels need to graze, they are allowed on city streets if supervised and restrained.
Circus Mondao's ring mistress, Petra Jackson, said local reaction to the animals had been "fantastic" since they started performing at Mill Parade on Wednesday.
She said: "This has by far been the best venue so far this season. The crowds' reaction and the reaction on our Facebook page have been fantastic.
"Obviously we're travellers so we love meeting people and the housing estates here are full of different and interesting characters, and they all love the animals.
"To be honest, we would have preferred to get a better place for the animals because they're our main concern. So it was nice to let some of them go for a walk and stretch their legs out in the open."
The show, which runs until April 14, also features horses, goats and zebras.
Ms Jackson added: "Not everyone can get to a zoo, so after the performance we let people come in and meet the animals. I can guarantee you that this is the only place you can stroke a zebra!"
Jordan Bray, 17, of Redland Street, Newport, could not believe his eyes when he saw the exotic animals out on the streets. "I was baffled, but it made me laugh," he said.
"They were walking by my old house, and I just couldn't stop laughing to myself. I had no idea that there was a circus on either so that made it even more surreal."
For more details on Circus Mondao's upcoming shows, go to www.circusmondao.co.uk
●The term “camel” derives from Hebrew or Phoenician and has the meaning “to bear” or “carry”.
●The two surviving species are the dromedary (one-humped and native to the Middle East) and the bactrian (the two-humped camel associated with Central Asia).
●Their distinctive “humps” are fatty deposits and a single hump can weigh up to 80 pounds.
●As of 2010, there are 14 million camels, but only around a thousand bactrian camels remain in the wild.
●During the winter, some can go 50 days without water, but can drink up to 80 litres in one session.