MEXICO CITY — The American owner of a wildlife park in the Mexican resort of Tulum has died after being kicked, bit and sat on by a camel, and authorities have seized the private facility’s animals pending an investigation.
Rescuers had to use a rope tied to a pickup truck to pull the enraged camel off the body of Richard Mileski of Chicago, according to Tulum Civil Defense official Alberto Canto. He said Mileski was 70 years old and the attack took place on Monday. Other sources said Mileski was 60.
“The camel kicked and bit him practically to death, and when he was almost dead, he sat on him,” said Canto. “Between the blows and the weight of the camel on top of him, he was asphyxiated.”
While it was unclear why the animal, which was in a kind of enclosure, attacked Mileski, Canto said some versions suggest the camel was upset at not getting a soft drink.
“One version is that he would always give him a Coca-Cola to drink, and apparently, that day he didn’t give him the Coca-Cola,” Canto said, adding, “there are a lot of versions.”
The U.S. Embassy confirmed the man’s name, and said he died Tuesday, adding “we extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends.” A sanctuary employee said Mileski died Monday.
Mexico’s Attorney General’s office for Environmental Protection said late Tuesday that the camel, 13 spider monkeys, six deer, two emus, two llamas and a wild boar were placed under seizure orders, but were being kept at the sanctuary pending investigation.
The office said the park did not have papers proving the legal ownership of the animals.
The facility is located on a road between Tulum and the nearby Maya ruin site of Coba. The office gave the name as Tulum Monkey Jungle.
It said the animals “will be held by the manager of the facility in administrative custody,” meaning they can’t leave the park but will be cared for.
By MARK STEVENSON, Associated Press