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Mammals

Alpaca

alpaca

Lama pacos

Distribution:

South America; now farmed world-wide

Habitat:

High altitude ranches

Diet:

Vegetation

Gestation:

11.5 months, average one offspring every year

Longevity:

20-30 years

Predators:

There are no wild alpaca - their only predators are humans, who farm them for meat and wool

Conservation status:

Vocuna are the wild ancestors of alpaca; they are classified as endangered

General:

There are at least 22 ‘colours’ of alpaca, mostly brown, cream, grey, black and white. White is the predominant colour – due to selective breeding, it’s also easier to dye and sell.

Alpaca make several sounds, including humming.

Gentle, elegant, inquisitive and observant. Social herd animals, alpaca are nervous of potential predators. An alpaca does not like to be approached from behind, have its head touched or feel crowded. Threatening humans or other animals may be spat at or kicked. Humans are not always the target of spitting, but may be hit accidentally!

All domestic animal species originated from wild ancestors. Although many generations may have passed, and many modifications developed by selective breeding, all domestic animals are a risk to native animals if allowed to establish colonies in the wild. These feral animals may compete with native animals for resources such as food, shelter, water and space. Feral predators will prey on native animals. In New Zealand there are a host of feral animals including rabbits, pigs, stoats, goats, cockatoos and cats.

At Hamilton Zoo:

We have two male alpaca living at Hamilton Zoo, Tyson and Pablo. Both boys were born in 2004. Check out what happens when Tyson and Pablo are due for their annual shear in Keeper Kylie's Keeper Blog.