Shambu's Wildshots
Alpaca
Writer: Aparna Sundaresan
Illustrator: Savio Mascarenhas
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While in Peru, Shambu became friends with an alpaca named Jorge. Let’s learn more about this extremely fluffy and gentle creature.

  • The alpaca is the domesticated version of the wild animal vicuña that lives in the higher reaches of  the Andes mountains in South America.
  • Alpacas and llamas are related. The llama is the domesticated version of the guanaco, another wild animal from the Andes.
  • Alpacas are also related to the camel and are, in fact, the smallest members of the camel family. Their average height is 91.4 centimeters at the shoulder—that’s about three A4 sheets laid end to end.
  • There are two types of alpacas—huacaya and suri. 95 per cent of alpacas are huacayas. They have crimpy hair that grows straight up from their skin, which makes them look wooly. Suri alpacas have straight hair that curls towards the ground, which look somewhat like dreadlocks.
  • Alpacas are raised mostly for their soft, wooly coat which is waterproof and very strong. Their fur is said to be the second strongest animal fibre, after mohair (the fibre made from the hair of the angora goat). In Incan times, only those from the royalty or nobility would wear clothes made from alpaca and vicuña fibre.
  • Alpacas can adapt to a range of environments and have been exported to several countries. Their habitat, however, is still farmland.
  • Alpacas are extremely social and need the company of other alpacas. They are curious as well as gentle. With proper training, they make for good pets.
  • When they feel threatened or distressed, alpacas spit. They do not spit at people or bite them unless they have been abused or frightened.
  • Alpacas are herbivores and mainly eat grass. They also enjoy leaves, wood, bark or stems.
  • Baby alpacas are called crias. When llamas and alpacas have children, their babies are called huarizo.

Read more about Shambu’s latest Peruvian adventure in Tinkle 777 W1!

Sources:
Live Science
Smithsonian’s National Zoo: Alpaca
Britannica Encyclopaedia: Alpaca
Britannica Encyclopaedia: Mohair
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