In 1988, having completed the “Bicentennial Camel Race” trekking 3,250 km across Australia, Alex and Doug Cluer moved their family to Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates. Alex’s position involved helping to establish a racing camel research center for His Highness The Crown Prince Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. In 1991 Alex co-founded the first commercial Camel Safari Company in the UAE. During this time a series of T-shirt designs were created featuring animals of the UAE. With the personal loss of two daughters due to S.I.D.S. and the birth of their youngest daughter Madeline, Alex decided to turn the T-shirt characters into a series of children’s books for his daughters. The first book was written in 1994 and featured a central character Harry the Lazy Camel.
With a veterinary background and a special interest in zoo animals, Alex gradually developed a conservation theme in the books. With Alex’s father Harry having been born in Harbin, Manchuria and living his childhood in Shanghai, China held a special fascination for Alex. In 1996 discussions with John Hare of the Wild Camel Preservation Foundation on the plight of the Wild Two-Humped Camel in the Mongolian and Chinese Gobi Desert led to thoughts of the children’s books being used as an educational fund-raising vehicle.
In 1998, the Foundation with Harry the camel as its mascot and “camels helping camels” as its theme was started. An extended series of books, merchandising, and marketing campaigns has taken shape to help to promote and fund projects in a number of countries. The original team that pioneered embryo transfer in the camel for Sheikh Khalifa, Dr. Alex Tinson, Dr. Angus McKinnon and Mr. Heath Harris, has been brought together as advisors and project managers for the HEF Foundation (Harry’s Endangered Friends).
Young embryo transfer calves, including the world’s first frozen
embryo camel calf (centre) born February 1995.
“To provide scientific and technical assistance to projects involving endangered species”
The HEF Foundation is a privately funded and managed organization designed to provide direct and effective assistance to preserving endangered species.
The HEF Foundation will provide local and international assistance to specifically selected projects using scientific technology, education and management.
The HEF Foundation is a small dynamic team that will identify projects where assisted reproductive techniques can make a real impact on the preservation of endangered populations.
The HEF Foundation will promote the education of local and indigenous populations in the application of scientific technology and management in their endangered species.
The HEF Foundation has an office in the UAE to capitalize on the development of the existing scientific technology here, and to provide a central base for the worldwide application of that technology.
7-day old camel embryos magnified 200x