camels

Residents of the 15000 block of South Avenida Kaye no longer need to worry about camels wandering the neighborhood.

A Pima County woman whose exotic animals have been the subject of a Pima County Sheriff's Department investigation has been cited in the case after she went missing for weeks.

Sheriff's detectives had been looking for Alex Warnock since July 30, when animal protection officers with the Pima County Animal Care Center seized an emaciated horse from her property west of Sahuarita and had concerns about the conditions of a camel and water buffalo.

Warnock had not been seen for a few days and there was no water on the property, officials said. At the time, Detective Ted Noon said he planned to cite Warnock with animal neglect for the horse and was still investigating a potential neglect case for the other animals.

Warnock did not show up at a hearing in Pima County Justice Court on Aug. 9, and a judge approved the seizure of the horse, Noon said. The judge ruled the county couldn't seize the other animals because they aren't considered livestock under Arizona statute. At the time, Noon said he wasn't too concerned about the other animals because neighbors told him Warnock was periodically caring for them. He was still trying to find her so he could cite her over the horse.

On Tuesday, Noon said via email that Warnock was recently stopped by the Marana Police Department for a traffic violation. 

"I responded out to the scene where she refused to talk to me. I cited her for animal cruelty, criminal damage and criminal nuisance violations. All were misdemeanors," Noon wrote.

Noon also said the seized horse is "making excellent progress" and Warnock has found homes for the other animals.

Warnock, who changed her name in January from Alexander Dirac Robert Warnock to Julius Robert Oppenheimer, is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 3.

Her neighbors on South Avenida Kaye called authorities in February to say her two camels were on the loose.

Deputies were able to shoo the 7-foot, 1,600-pound animals back to their yard but they had to be corralled after they ran free again the next day.

An animal neglect investigation was launched because deputies also discovered the animals’ water and food bowls were low. At that time, Warnock said she had been ill and had asked a relative to care for the animals while she was bedridden.

Investigators eventually determined the camels and several other animals on the property were in good health and had not been neglected.

Back in February, Warnock said she had had dreams of starting a petting zoo. She adopted her first camel, Baby, in 2006 and her second camel, Nessie, years later. They were featured on the Animal Planet channel in 2013.

At the time, Warnock said both camels were up for sale, along with several of her other animals because they have become too difficult to care for.

Kim Smith | 520-547-9740

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