Seven camels spotted outside of Lidl in Lower Saxony

Police officers in Bergen, a town in Celle, Lower Saxony, went on an unexpected mission when they received several calls about camels loitering in a shopping mall car park.

Seven camels spotted outside of Lidl in Lower Saxony
The seven camels spotted outside of Lidl. Photo: Polizei Celle

The camels had ventured to the parking lot in front of the supermarket Lidl – situated just off of the A3 highway – on Monday night, police reported on Tuesday.

When the officers arrived at the scene at 11:30 p.m., they learned that the animals had escaped from a nearby winter camp of a circus.

“We haven't had runaway camels in our jurisdiction yet,” Celle police spokesman Thorsten Wallheinke told The Local. “An employee of the circus had not closed the gate properly, so that the animals were able to run away.”

The area was safety secured during the half hour long police operation until the camels were brought back to the circus, and an employee led the animals safely back to their stables.

Their escape marked the second time this year that camels have broken out of a circus. In Bremen in northern Germany, the lead circus camel “Ivan the Great” and another camel were spotted having a vegetarian-friendly feast in the meadow opposite a McDonald’s in April.

After police were called, the two camels were also safely returned to their enclosures.

“Ivan the Great” in Bremen. Photo: DPA

In 2014, Munich police were also called when a concerned resident spotted a pack of seven camels eating plants on their lawn. They had also escaped from a local circus.

While camels are associated with desert climates, they have a long history in Europe, stretching back to the Romans who would use them as working animals.

Nowadays throughout Europe, there are several camel farms selling products such as milk and wool, as well as circuses which feature them.

There are also a number of camel species, from those adapted to warm climates to Bactrian camels native to Central Asia and thus accustomed to colder climates.

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German police under fire for using tracing app to find witnesses

German police drew criticism Tuesday for using an app to trace contacts from bars and restaurants in the fight against the pandemic as part of an investigation.

A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant.
A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

The case stemming from November last year began after the fatal fall of a man while leaving a restaurant in the western city of Mainz.

Police seeking possible witnesses made use of data from an app known as Luca, which was designed for patrons to register time spent in restaurants and taverns to track the possible spread of coronavirus.

Luca records the length of time spent at an establishment along with the patron’s full name, address and telephone number – all subject to Germany’s strict data protection laws.

However the police and local prosecutors in the case in Mainz successfully appealed to the municipal health authorities to gain access to information about 21 people who visited the restaurant at the same time as the man who died.

After an outcry, prosecutors apologised to the people involved and the local data protection authority has opened an inquiry into the affair.

“We condemn the abuse of Luca data collected to protect against infections,” said the company that developed the Luca app, culture4life, in a statement.

It added that it had received frequent requests for its data from the authorities which it routinely rejected.

Konstantin von Notz, a senior politician from the Greens, junior partners in the federal coalition, warned that abuse of the app could undermine public trust.

“We must not allow faith in digital apps, which are an important tool in the fight against Covid-19, to disappear,” he told Tuesday’s edition of Handelsblatt business daily.