This past week the Creation Museum’s zookeepers sheared the alpacas and sheep. The fiber animals are sheared once every spring to keep them cool over the hot summer months! The petting zoo is currently home to two alpacas, a huarizo (a llama-alpaca hybrid), and two sheep.
Alpaca fiber is very warm and is also hypoallergenic (it doesn't contain lanolin like sheep's wool does). The useable fiber from an alpaca comes from its back and sides; this high-quality fiber is called the blanket. The blanket is used to make yarn, which can then be turned into a variety of items.
Do you know the difference between an alpaca and a llama? The llama is about twice the size of the alpaca and has a very coarse outer coat over a softer inner coat, whereas the alpaca has a very fine single coat. Despite being much larger, the llama produces far less fiber per animal than the alpaca.
In your next visit to the petting zoo, be sure to say hello to our freshly trimmed animals!