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Alpaca Day

"🎶 Old MacDonald had a farm!
E-I-E-I O ....
And on this farm he had an alpaca
E-I-E-I O ..."

~ Traditional

"🎶 With a hum hum here, and a cluck cluck there ..." alpacas make a variety of sounds and variations including screams and orgles (!) depending on the situation, but are best known for their musical closed-mouth humming sounds which can express contentedness, boredom, anxiety, greeting others, and even happiness. Alpacas are domesticated versions of the vicuna, a South American ruminant that lives high in the Andes. They are also related to llamas (similarly, domesticated versions of the wild guanacos). Alpacas are docile, highly sociable, gentle, curious and prized as pets and herd animals around the world. However, like their camel cousins, if they feel distressed or threatened by other alpacas, they might spit, leading to the informal name for a herd, a "spittoon of alpacas". Of the two breeds of alpacas, the Suri has very long-fibred fleeces while the Huacaya has a shorter crimped fleece. Alpaca fur incredibly soft and does not retain water. In fact, it’s the second strongest animal fibre after mohair. Designed for a Nebraska-based Alpaca farm, this tartan illustrates a spectrum of wool colors from the alpaca, ranging through at least 22 recognized variations of whites and creams, fawns, browns, silvers, greys, and blacks! Hummmmmm .... 🦙 🦙 🦙

Happy Alpaca Day!

Alpacas were domesticated thousands of years ago. There are no known wild alpacas, and its closest living relative, the vicuña (also native to South America), is its wild ancestor.

The family of camelids (llamas, camels, alpacas, guanacos, vicunas, dromedaries)  first appeared in Americas 40–45 million years ago! Although the camelids became extinct in North America around 3 million years ago, it flourished in the South with the species we see today.

Remains of vicuña and guanaco have been found throughout Peru for around 12,000 years. Their domesticated counterparts, the llama and alpacas, have been found mummified in the Moquegua valley, in the south of Peru, dating back 900 to 1000 years. 

Alpacas are social herd animals that live in family groups, consisting of a territorial alpha male, females, and their young ones. Alpacas warn the herd about intruders by making sharp, noisy inhalations that sound like a high-pitched bray. The herd may attack smaller predators with their front feet and can spit and kick. Their aggression towards members of the canid family (coyotes, foxes, dogs etc.) is exploited when alpacas are used as guard llamas for guarding sheep!

Alpacas are closely tied to cultural practices for Andeans people. Prior to colonization, the image of the alpaca was used in rituals and in their religious practices. Since the people in the region depended heavily on these animals for their sustenance, the alpaca was seen as a gift from Pachamama. Alpacas were used for their meat, fibers for clothing, and art, and their images in the form of conopas.

For more fascinating alpaca facts, click the alpacas!

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