The two dromedaries – five-year-old, 800-kilogramme Simbas and three-year-old, one-tonne Judas – were part of a caravan of performers and animals that went to the French countryside to wait for new gigs last summer. The Paris circus they were attached to abruptly stopped touring following a road accident which killed a 3-year-old child and seriously injured the mother, according to French daily Libération.
Members of the circus troupe, who kept the camels along with llamas, goats, donkeys, a pony and a member of a long-horned species of African cattle called the Watusi, said they visited the animals daily and that neighbours regularly brought hay, straw and carrots for them.
"We realized yesterday and lodged a complaint with the police, who are investigating," circus director Mickael Douchet told AFP from the small commune of Estivareilles in central France.
Last December, President of the Communauté de Communes des Val de Cher, Gérard Ciofolo decided to allow the troupe to station themselves in an industrial area 19km north of the city of Montmuçon.
Local broadcaster France 3-Auvergne reported that the circus troupe believed animal rights activists may have targeted the camels.