What exactly is it about your favorite sweater that brings you so much joy? Could it be that the soft, intuitive nature of the animal that grew the fiber has woven its personality into each thread? Alpacas have been comforting humans for centuries, and not just by warming our bones with their luxurious fur! Get cozy, dear friend, for we’re about to envelop ourselves in appreciation for one of the most underrated (and floofy) mammals out there!

Up until this point, you may have only had the opportunity to spot an alpaca in a distant field. But today, you’re in luck! Here’s your chance to get up close and personal with an animal whose quirky good looks are often mistaken for llamas. These long-necked members of the Camelidae family 1 are special in many ways, and we’re shearing them all up for you inside this very article!

Source: Pixabay

Fluffy and fascinating; ancient and elite.

Alpacas have been around for a really, really long time. Long before you and I were a twinkle in someone’s eye, alpacas were domesticated by the Incas over 6,000 years ago! Alpacas were raised for their exquisite fur, known as fleece. And, because this fancy fleece was so desirable, it was reserved exclusively for royalty and members of high society.

But what makes alpaca fleece so special? Well, it’s basically the superhero of fibers!

It’s stronger than mohair, smoother than silk, finer than cashmere, softer than cotton, warmer than goose down, less scratchy than wool, and it is much more breathable than thermal knits. And, as a mega bonus, it is hypoallergenic! This is not only a good thing for people with allergies, but it allows the fleece to be processed and washed without the use of harsh chemicals.

Unlike llamas, whose fleece is naturally longer and similar to silky dreadlocks, an alpaca’s fur is more squishable and grows outward like sheep’s wool. Furthermore, alpaca fleece is water- and flame-resistant, which makes it an A+ option for apparel that needs to withstand the elements! 2

‌Pure joy, climbing up the mountain!

While alpacas are related to camels, they are unique in that they have a knack for thriving in high altitudes. In North America, though, you are most likely to catch them batting their long lashes on farms and ranches like the one you are about to see.

Warning: you may end up with an uncontrollable urge to hug an alpaca after watching this adorable video by VICE!

Via: VICE 3

‌GAH! So cute.

VICE has loads of amazing videos that highlight wonders from each corner of the Earth on their YouTube channel. Check them out next time you experience a bit of wanderlust!

More than just a warm, fuzzy feeling…

As you can clearly see in that video, alpacas are super friendly and peaceful creatures. These personality traits, combined with their lovable appearance, make them great companions!

Alpacas have been utilized in many instances as therapy animals to help comfort those battling illness or bring a smile to the elderly. Watch this lovely video to see how Ed Sheeran (the alpaca, not the musician) visits the Beaudesert Hospital and brightens everyone’s day!

We’re off to the farm!

Due to their friendly nature and low-maintenance lifestyle, alpacas have become a favorite for beginner farmers. Alpacas even share a community dung pile, conducting their business all in the same place, making for easy disposal. How considerate of them!

Sometimes when you need to switch things up in life, the best place to start is by following the thing that brings you happiness. And that’s exactly what our next video proves!

Meet Ann and Dan Clayburn, former robotic electricians who decided to trade their tech careers in favor of a more “huggable investment.”

Thank you, True Calling, for reminding us that you can always switch gears, no matter what stage you are at in life! If that video inspired you to find your new groove, subscribe to their YouTube channel to see more.

If you want to go check out an alpaca farm for yourself, now is a perfect time! National Alpaca Farm Days take place during the last weekend of September every year!

They need us, too!

So, we’ve learned about some of the ways alpacas bring us joy, but it’s also nice to know that we are able to return the favor for them! By trimming their fleece each year, they are able to withstand warm temperatures, and it keeps their fur from getting matted which can become uncomfortable for them. Plus, who wouldn’t enjoy an annual spa day complete with a haircut, pedicure, and belly rubs?

Once again, nature proves that when we work together, it’s a win-win situation for us all! Here are some fun articles that expand on the ultimate partnership between humans and the great wild!

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Keep dreaming and notice the beauty around you!

~Renee

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Notes:

  1. “List of Camelids | Britannica.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 2020, www.britannica.com/topic/list-of-camelids-2059523. Accessed 15 Sept. 2020.
  2. https://www.facebook.com/Treehugger. “11 Things You Didn’t Know About Alpacas.” Treehugger, 2020, www.treehugger.com/things-you-didnt-know-about-alpacas-4864274. Accessed 15 Sept. 2020.
  3. VICE. “Cute Alpacas! | The Cute Show.” YouTube, 24 Jan. 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwL7xUC6LqQ&feature=emb_title. Accessed 15 Sept. 2020.
  4. True Calling. “Electrician Turned Alpaca Farmer Makes a Career Out of Cuteness.” YouTube, 30 July 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9I2LHdh3Q8&feature=emb_title. Accessed 15 Sept. 2020.

Renee Laroche-Rheaume

Outreach Coordinator

Renee is a graduate of FIDM, and has held jobs in several industries such as apparel manufacturing, retail, professional office work, and even hospitality! Her creative outlook, wide variety of experiences, and desire to notice the beauty around us make her a great addition to the EWC team!