Flamingo Land has recently been moving some of the animals around for winter, including our alpacas.
Our South America enclosure is an open mixed species enclosure where the animals have a lot of space to roam around and a lot of freedom as to where they can go and what they can do. Unfortunately, as it is such an open enclosure, there isn’t a massive amount of shelter for very poor weather conditions, so at this time of year when the weather is usually quite miserable we move our alpacas down to the muddy duck farm where our goats are usually housed and the goats move to an enclosure around the corner. This way our alpacas have a stable to shelter in and, if necessary, our keepers can keep them inside at night in extreme weather conditions, though we allow our animals free access outside as much as possible.
Alpacas are a domesticated South American camelid, so they are closely related to camels and vicuna, which are two other species that we have at Flamingo Land.
Our alpacas are very well domesticated and we can walk them over to the farm as they are head collar trained and can be led. This is great for both keepers and alpacas as it allows a calm move.
Alpacas look a lot like llamas but are considerably smaller. This is because alpacas are bred for their coat, rather than to be working animals. Alpaca fibre is used for knitting a variety of items from blankets to sweaters. The fibre comes in 52 natural colours as classified in Peru.
Alpaca coat is seen as a luxurious fibre as, although it is similar to sheep wool, it is warmer and contains no lanolin which makes it hypoallergenic. Alpaca fibre is glossy and soft as well as being flame resistant.
A behaviour commonly associated with camelids is spitting. Not all alpacas spit but they are all capable of doing so. They more frequently spit at other alpacas rather than humans as it is seen as aggressive.
Alpacas are social animals and will live in herds consisting of a territorial alpha male, females and their young. Alpacas alert other members of the group to danger by making short, sharp, high-pitched braying noises and can attack smaller predators by kicking and spitting.