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Nativity animals criticized


DALLAS -- At this Nativity scene, the sheep really are in the manger and the calf, it really is lowing.

There's no wise man sitting on the camel, but little children wisely keep their heads turned while petting the beast, which apparently likes to snack on hair.

It's Carolina Rodriguez's second annual live Nativity -- an eye-popping scene in northwest Dallas that is part Christmas decoration, part petting zoo.

"My mom bent down and got her hair near the camel, and he was munching on it," said Lupita Molina, 9, one of dozens of visitors Saturday morning to the Rodriguezes' front yard. "I was laughing."

Some people apparently aren't as happy about the Nativity. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas has received 13 complaints about the display since the animals arrived Dec. 6.

Friday, neighbors around the Rodriguezes' home found an anonymous letter on their doors: "How much longer will each of us drive by and not feel any compassion for these creatures"? The letter urged people to complain to authorities.

Bobby French, the SPCA's chief investigator, said the animals were not being abused. At his suggestion, however, the family placed tents over the animals and added more hay to their pens.

French will continue to monitor the goat, calf, llama, camel and two sheep.

Rodriguez, who has a permit from the city of Dallas, said the Nativity is for children to enjoy. There was little money for Christmas decorations while Rodriguez was growing up, so her family would drive by stately homes to see them.

"My dream was to someday have a tree with lights and, as things got better for us, we started doing more and more," said Rodriguez, who owns several area restaurants with her husband, Mico.

Pub Date: 12/17/98

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