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July 17, 2023

Why did a camel show up in Northern Liberties and eat a baguette?

Many social media users are wondering what the animal was doing on Second Street on Monday morning. It was there for a photoshoot

Social Media Camels
Camel Philly Nike Frans van Heerden/

A camel was in Northern Liberties on Monday morning in the area of 2nd Street and Fairmount Avenue. Apparently, it was there for a photo shoot.

Some things that happen in Philly just need to be taken at face value.

If it's a Monday morning and there's a camel eating a baguette on a street in Northern Liberties, it's perfectly normal to wonder why. But it's also not ridiculous to wonder, why not? Groundhogs casually eat pizza here. 

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Multiple Twitter and Facebook posts showed the majestic camel hanging out in the area of 2nd Street and Fairmount Avenue before noon on Monday. A couple of children were seen standing with the animal, who let out a hearty bellow while being directed by its handler.

One photo shared on Facebook showed a police officer keeping an eye on things at the scene. Another picture showed a police line, so it is clear the camel's presence was permitted. 

On Monday afternoon, a Philadelphia police spokesperson said the camel was there for a commercial being shot by Nike, which turned out not to be true. 

At Bourbon & Branch, a bar nearby where the camel appeared, an employee who answered the phone said she believed it had something to do with a photo shoot unrelated to the restaurant. The camel was gone by mid-afternoon.

The correct answer came Monday night when the marketing manager for Petit Clair, a boutique childrenswear brand, reached out to PhillyVoice to clarify that it was her company's photoshoot, not a commercial for Nike. The shoot was for Petit Clair's back-to-school campaign. The company has five stores in New York and New Jersey, plus an online shop. 

"At Petit Clair we like to push the limits of our campaigns and it was kind of like a mix of inspiration images that our creative team came up with," Joanne Vaillancourt said. "I mean, who would imagine a camel walking the streets with backpacks and hey why not have him eating baguettes?" 

Vaillancourt thanked Bourbon & Branch for the hospitality outside its storefront. The baguettes came from Kaplan's Bakery and the camel's name was Pearl. 

"Pearl was a great talent today and (although) she may have had opinions on certain styled shots with her loud noises, it was great," Vaillancourt said

It's unclear how Philadelphia police came to believe this was a Nike commercial — Vallaincourt speculated the officer there may have been joking with other cops, who then relayed the false information — but regardless, someone at Nike definitely received what must be a very confusing email from PhillyVoice about this. 

Somehow, this isn't even close to the weirdest story about camels in the Philly area. Does Einstein, the brave snow camel of 2018, ring a bell? In the middle of a winter storm, the camel was spotted next to a van on the side of Route 309 in Sellersville, Bucks County.

It turned out Einstein was supposed to appear at an event at the Kimmel Center put on by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Regrettably, he did not make it and was sent back to Peaceable Kingdom Petting Zoo. 

A year prior, a North Philly mom spent $25,000 to throw an Arabian-themed high school prom party for her son, which included a camel, three tons of sand and exotic cars. Months later, the same woman, Saudia Shuler, threw a lavish Christmas party with two live reindeer at Country Cookin', her former North 22nd Street restaurant. Shuler was later charged with defrauding the government of nearly $37,000 in disability benefits and was sentenced to six months of house arrest, but she and her supporters maintain that the parties were funded mostly by community donations and were meant to uplift the neighborhood.

It has been a while since Philly had a camel around. Thanks, Nike Petit Clair. 

Note: This story was updated with new information.