Richard Meleski, Tulum Monkey Sanctuary owner, dead after camel attack

600 kilo Camel that killed Mr Richard Meleski (Photo: La Verdad)

A 60-year-old man is dead after being attacked by a camel on a ranch in Tulum, Quintana Roo.

Richard Michael Meleski, originally from Chicago, owned the Tulum Monkey Sanctuary, a three-acre reserve designed to rehabilitate monkeys rescued from the illegal pet trade or threatened by the loss of habitat.

Yesterday morning the adult dromedary camel, weighing 600 kilos, attacked Meleski as he was walking past the animal. He was bitten and kicked and knocked to the ground, where the camel then sat down on top of its victim.

Alerted by Meleski’s cries for help, ranch employee Manuel Jesús Medina Aldana, after trying unsuccessfully to remove the animal, used a rope to attach it to a truck and pull it off. The ranch owner was carried, still alive, to his home but died shortly after.

It is believed that the camel might have been suffering severe stress, having been moved to the sanctuary from a circus in Mérida.

The sanctuary’s Facebook page describes it as a place that provides a safe and natural habitat for rescued monkeys in the state.

A story in the Yucatán Times earlier this year reported that the sanctuary sits on three acres of land that is part of a 61-acre ranch not far from Tulum’s hotel zone, and opened in late 2012.

Meleski was reported to have been rescuing animals for over 15 years. One of those animals was a spider monkey that continues to live in the sanctuary today.

Meleski’s ranch is also home to a herd of white-tailed deer, descendants of those he rescued from an abusive rancher some years before, according to the Times’ report.

The monkey sanctuary is staffed by four to five rotating volunteer workers.