A camel decided Aliyah Inzer's treat wasn't enough. He began to nibble on her head, and the ensuing video with the little girl's infectious laugh has become a viral web hit.
Tyler and Marcie Inzer have two children: Aliyah, who is nearly 3 years old, and infant Everly. The Olathe family headed to Branson for a family vacation and stopped off at a drive-through safari near Springfield.
Aliyah loves animals, so the family decided to check out the Wild Animal Safari. After buying a big bag of food, they set out with Aliyah in her father's lap. Filled with joy, Aliyah was snuggling her head against the various animals.
That included what has become known as "bad camel" in the family.
"We were feeding him, and as we were putting the food away and trying to move on," Marcie Inzer recalled.
"He wasn't done," Tyler Inzer added.
"He was looking for some more food, and that's when he put his mouth on Aliyah's head," Marcie Inzer said.
She admits she was startled and exclaimed in fear initially.
"I just saw the camel open its mouth and realized, 'Oh, this camel might bite her ear or something,' so I pushed him away pretty quickly," Tyler Inzer said.
But the slobbery camel wasn't giving up easily on nuzzling a sweet girl. The couple watched their daughter's reactions and took their cues from her. Because she was laughing and wasn't scared, they held their breath and played along. Then the ornery camel decided to try to squeeze into the car and get his head all the way into the passenger seat where Marcie Inzer was.
At that point, the family had enough.
But as Tyler Inzer drove slowly away, the camel didn't want to say goodbye.
"He's coming with us!" Marcie Inzer exclaimed on the video.
"Then he started chasing the car, which got us laughing even more," Marcie Inzer said Monday. "After we got past the camel, we checked her out, and she was fine and laughing."
Maintaining the calm demeanor kept the girl fine and the camel from snapping, the parents said.
The family uploaded their "Bad Camel" video to YouTube. Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltxf7RATGZs&feature=youtube_gdata_player to see the nearly three-minute video in its entirety.
The family says it's surreal how big the video has gotten so quickly. The anchors on ABC's Good Morning America highlighted it Monday morning as their video of the day. NBC's Today Show featured it as one of their trending videos. CNN called the family for a Skype interview Monday afternoon.
"Aliyah makes us laugh every day with that giggle, and I'm just thrilled that we get to share a piece of that, everybody," her mother explained.
Her father agreed.
"I think her laughter is what makes the video," Tyler Inzer said.
She is still laughing, and the little girl wishes she could have brought the camel home with her.
"He was soft, and he was slimy," Aliyah said. "He bit my head, and he pushed my head. He also came with us in the car. It was funny! Daddy said, 'Oh my gosh!'"
And she's ready to return to the zoo and see more animals.
Some of the Good Morning America anchors criticized the family for not having Aliyah buckled in.
The family emphasizes that they are a big proponents of seatbelts, but that they wanted her to be near the animals. They said the car was moving just 5 mph, and they felt safe with her being in her father's lap so they could keep a close eye on her.
It might have been more scary if the camel had stuck his head in through a rear window, and the little girl been buckled into a car seat by herself.
"We thought her being in the back with the animals just wasn't going to be an option," her mother said.
"We wanted myself to be a barrier between the animals because they were wild animals, and we didn't know how they would react," Tyler Inzer said.
And because of the animal's slimy mouth, everyone got a hot bath, and the car got disinfected.
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