‘One hump or two?’ by Jan Darling

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There are things not to ask when you go to the Zoo

Like how many animals, hundreds or few?

Like do you have tigers and lions that eat people?

And do your giraffes have to live in a steeple?

Do people-like monkeys swing through the trees

Do they all live in cages or out in the breeze.?


When you go to the Zoo they give you a guide

That tells how to find the ones that will hide

The cleverest creatures will give you the slip

Or if you’re too close they may give you a nip.

You have to walk slowly and take your time

Banging their cages is really a crime.


There are wild things all sizes and colours and hues

Creatures who only can live in our Zoos.

They’re from hot and cold climates all over the world

They have tails that are crooked, fluffy or curled.

My favourites of all are g’rillas and camels

‘Cos both of them are really big mammals.


Of everything mammal I’m most fond of the camel

They don’t seem to find that the hump is a trammel

Some camels have one hump and others have two

You’ll often find both of them guests in your Zoo.

Because they’re so tall they see over the wall

And into their neighbour’s adjacent stall.


But let’s talk of the camel whose top parts are hairy

The single-hump two-toed hoofed dromedary.

He has long legs and fat lips and looks very snouty

More snooty and haughty than modest and pouty

His hump is really a storeroom for fat

Which he turns into water – now how about that?


He’s adapted for desert and struts overland

That’s why he’s called a ship of the sand

Two rows of long lashes flutter over his eyes

And a third clear eyelid protects them from flies

There’s a real clever trick for when sand is blowing

He can close his nostrils to keep himself going.


He’s been used as a taxi, a car and a train

As a beast of burden, in sandstorm or rain ,

He donates to nature – this noble beast

Skin and wool to wear, milk and meat to feast.

He’s the Arabian camel, that handsome beast

Native North African, and Middle of East.


Now listen to this – I don’t want to faze ya

The Bactrian camels from central Asia –

They have two bumps – they’ve a double hump

But these camels have never been known to grump.

They’re sociable, useful, tidy, and witty

But occasionally also known to be spitty.


When two camels meet, in desert or street

They hasten to make their formal ‘greet’

With an eye on each other the greeting may go

Slow, while in their faces they blow.

After all this brotherly sharing of breath

They decide to be friends from now unto death.


Now hear a few facts ‘bout our humpy new friends

Pregnancy lasts fourteen months beforet ends

Mother births one, but occasionally twins,

And calves can be walking within thirty mins!

At two weeks of age, or during the third

Mother and baby return to the herd.


At seven our camels are ready to mate

They’re all grown up and at the right weight

They’ll size up their chance at the local dance

And off with their partners, a new life they’ll chance.

Sadly for us at ten years and seven

They’re usually called from duty to heaven.


Jan Darling

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