Athol is famous for more than its name.
People in this area seem to raise rather exotic animals. We have the Zebra Lady in the Silver Meadows area, and just down the street resides Jeannene Christ and too many strange animals to count. There are a number of pygmy goats, horses, dogs and camels.
Yes, camels. At last count, Jeannene is boarding three camels, all at her place for training purposes. You see, Jeanne may be the only camel trainer in the West. They cost $25,000 and up, and buying her own is a little pricey but possibly a future development. One of them, Noah, is a 3-year-old dromedary camel who hit it off with Kali Andrews, a 4-year-old, who produced a carrot.
Due to insurance issues, tours are not commonly available, but to make up for that, Jeannene has put together a mobile petting zoo. The petting zoo activities are of course limited to warm weather. She can take these animals to schools and other locations.
Maggie Mae was a domestically raised animal that Kristina Nicholas Anderson has brought up from days old and bottle-fed to its now 2 1/2-years old. Not yet mature, which takes four or more years, Maggie Mae didn’t know she was a zebra. She followed Kristina around like a puppy, nosing into whatever Kristina was doing. The animal was routinely taken to work in Dalton Gardens where she entertained patients and staff, peeking at them through the windows. She also sometimes walked into the house and made herself at home with the family.
When at home in Silver Meadows, she often was allowed to run free, knowing where her yard began and ended. Other animals located on Kristina’s farm were Lady, a 30-year-old arthritic palomino, and Onyx, a beautiful black horse/pony mix and two chickens.
Lady was a companion to Maggie Mae, the Zebra. Lady had to be put down recently, due to her worsening condition. Shortly thereafter, Dec. 15, Maggie Mae, seemingly in good health suddenly died. Colic the vet said, but Kristina swears it was from a broken heart. Asked if she was going ahead with her plans to raise more zebras, she relied, “Yes, in the spring we will most likely get one or more babies to raise.”
In the impossible-to-explain category, Kristina’s cocker spaniel, Azalea, which never left her own yard, suddenly departed from that behavior when her neighbor lady had a stroke. She immediately started sleeping with the afflicted woman and her husband at night, and staying during the day if her husband had to work, always returning home for dinner and a visit. To this day, she hasn’t failed to spend the night next door.