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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Alpaca at Deer Park Queenstown

My New Zealand Vacation, Queenstown, Deer Park, Photo20597
How do I look in my new hairdo and fur coat ?
(a wolf in sheep’s clothing..... haha !)

Seriously, this woolly creature is an alpaca and it is native to South America. My first encounter with this animal was in Deer Park. It resembles a sheep but is much larger and it has a long erect neck. Like the sheep, an alpaca is covered in a thick coat of fur.

The alpaca is a beautiful creature, gentle in nature, intelligent and inquisitive. As a prey animal, it is cautious and nervous and like having its own space. In spite of encountering many visitors in Deer Park daily, the herd of alpacas was cautious with us initially and kept their distance. It took a few minutes before these animals calmed down and let us approached them.

My New Zealand Vacation, Queenstown, Deer Park, Photo20594
(click for larger photo)
Herd of alpacas at Deer Park
Queenstown, Aug 2006

In the snow-capped background, that is Queenstown below the mountain range.

Unlike the llama, the alpaca is not used as a beast of burden. It is reared mainly for its wool and meat. Compared to sheep’s wool, alpaca wool is warmer, silkier, feels more luxurious and lighter in weight. Another attractive feature, it does not contain lanolin (which the sheep has) and this makes alpaca wool almost hypoallergenic.

My New Zealand Vacation, Queenstown, Deer Park, Photo20595A
(click for larger photo)
A beautiful alpaca
Deer Park, Queenstown, Aug 2006

For ease of dyeing the wool, alpacas have been bred mainly as white. Like sheep, you will find them in many shades of colour. As you see in the photo, an alpaca’s thick coat of fur gives it an appearance of an oversized long-neck sheep!
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