From Libya, with love. Gaddafi's camels in Eastern Bloc

Libya's dictator received the Order of the White Lion

Written by
Published on 01.03.2011 11:08 (updated on 01.03.2011)

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky
Published on 01.03.2011 11:08 (updated on 01.03.2011)

In 1982, during his second visit to Communist Czechoslovakia, Libya’s dictator Muammar Gaddafi received the Order of the White Lion – a Czechoslovakian award for foreigners.

Gaddafi himself brought an extraordinary gift for Czechoslovakia – a male Arabian camel.
A Zoo in Pilsen, Western Bohemia, which became the camel’s new home, immediately nicknamed him “Gaddafi”.

“After some years, it died from various diseases,” Martin Vobruba, the Zoo’s spokesman, told to

Camel anabasis


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Before coming to Pilsen, the camel had to walk through half of Europe. Literally.

Gaddafi, as Africa’s “king of kings“, sent to Eastern Europe a whole pack of camels. In 1981, their long journey started, and in every capital of allied socialist countries in East Europe, one animal was left as a gift.

“I believe they started in Rijeka (today’s Croatia, former Yugoslavia). But I have no idea how long did the journey take,” said Zbyněk Šíša, a long-time employee of Prague’s Zoo.

“They were supposed to reach Berlin, but when the last three arrived to Prague in fall 1981, their riders were already too cold,” remembers Šíša.

So, the three camels were walked through all the capital city to Prague Zoo.

However, at the time, the zoo was not breeding this species anymore, so one animal was sent to the Zoo in Pilsen, and the remaining two to Berlin, East Germany, and Bratislava, today’s capital of Slovakia which was back then part of Czechoslovakia.

In Pilsen, the Zoo staff made sure that “Gaddafi” was permanently in company of one or two female camels, but no procreation took place.



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