Northern Ireland

Life's a beach for Ivan the camel

Image caption Is it a mirage? Visitors to an Irish beach had to rub their eyes when they spied a camel on the sand dunes : Picture: Michael Connors

Visitors to an Irish beach might have been forgiven for thinking they had a touch of sunstroke.

For there, on the sand hills in County Donegal, looking perfectly at home, was a real, live camel.

With the heat and the camel, all that was missing was the Bedouin camp.

Ivan the camel had people rubbing their eyes and wondering if this was a mirage brought on by the heatwave.

Michael Connors, who lives in Belfast, was visiting the beach and was a little surprised when he spotted the camel.

"It is not every day you see a camel on an Irish beach," he said. "A few people were looking at it and I took a quick snap and uploaded it to Facebook."

Ivan is a member of the Gerbola family circus that is pitched near Falcarragh beach.

His owner, Tara Gerbola, said he could be seen at beaches right along the Irish coast as they travel from show to show.

"He loves the sand, he is on the beach, he is buried in sand and he is loving it. He is in his element," she said.

You might say that Ivan has found his own little Irish oasis.

The camel is four years old and lived at a pet farm before he "ran away to the circus".

But Tara said he was more of a pet than a performer... a pet with a keen nose for food who seldom takes the hump.

"Our performers open their doors in the morning to find Ivan looking for bread or carrots," she said.

"He ambles around and he performs for the kids. But you can't have a carrot for dinner; it is like he can smell it."

The camel has a fan base in caravans all across the Irish coast... forget Lawrence of Arabia, Ivan of Donegal is starring on a sand dune near you.