(Friday & Saturday only with a small display in the Animal Nursery on Wednesday/Thursday)
Alpacas are social herd animals and should always be kept with others of their kind, or at the very least with other herd animals. They are gentle, elegant, inquisitive, intelligent and observant. As they are a prey animal, they are cautious and nervous if they feel threatened. They like having their own space and do not like an unfamiliar alpacas or humans getting close, especially from behind. They warn the intruder away by making sharp, noisy inhalations, putting back their ears, twisting their heads and necks backwards toward the perceived threat, screaming, threatening to spit, and eventually may spit and kick. Due to the soft pads on their feet, the kicks are not as dangerous as those of hoofed animals.
A native of South America, the alpaca is a domesticated member of the Camelid family which includes the llama, camel, dromedary, guanaco and vicuna. Australia has the largest population of alpacas outside of South America. Approximately 40,000 alpacas are registered in Australia.
A number of alpaca fleeces are displayed at this year’s Royal Hobart Alpaca Show. Alpacas are shorn once a year, usually in spring. Fleece weights range from 2-5kg and are valued according to their micron and silky feel.