Remember that post I did a few weeks back about the giant bears I saw at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado? (If not, you can just click HERE to catch up). Anyways, I thought it might be interesting to see if anyone at the sanctuary would be willing to do a guest post on the blog! The person I corresponded with, however, said that all of the staff members are putting in 60-70 hours per week, and therefore are absolutely unavailable! My correspondent did say that I could feel free to reprint some of the stories from the newsletters, and I thought that was a great idea! In their last newsletter, they printed a story called "Summer's Here and It's Time for a New Hairdo," an article all about their fleet of shaved alpacas! Since I thought these guys were totally awesome, I decided to reprint this story, as it is both interesting, educational, and really, really funny! So please, enjoy, and make sure to check out the Wild Animal Sanctuary, and like their Facebook page by clicking HERE! Also, be sure to check out their website by clicking HERE!
It seems like everyone likes to observe the seasonal changes with some sort of personal change in their own life. It’s possible they are trying to mirror the change in landscape… or more likely, they’re trying to find a balance with nature. Sometimes this sort of thing can come in the form of a new wardrobe… and others might find balance by including more outdoor activities to get them in the groove.
Yet, whatever you like to do when the weather and daylight start to shift… there’s always one thing that pops up on an Alpaca’s springtime dance card – a trim and shave! Yep, that’s right, there’s nothing more refreshing than a late spring haircut to lift the spirits of an Alpaca - especially since wearing a winter coat in July or August can get a bit stuffy!
With this in mind, we started late last year trying to find a viable solution to our shearing needs for the 50+ Alpacas that live at the Sanctuary. Mind you, shearing one or two wouldn’t be so bad… but when you are looking at more than 200 fuzzy legs that happen to have big fuzzy bodies attached to them – one has to be realistic when it comes to planning how to get the shearing job done!
Luckily, through a myriad of connections talking with each other, we were able to find an Alpaca Ranch in Montana that routinely hires a professional shearer each spring to help lighten the load of their Alpacas. The Ranch owners offered to help the Sanctuary by paying for their shearer to come to the Sanctuary – along with the ranch’s own special team of Alpaca wranglers – in order to shear all of our Alpacas in the spring.
They were happy to share their expertise in the art of Alpaca wool management, and planned on taking the wool back to Montana to turn it into highdollar rugs. They then planned on sending some of the rugs down to us to sell in our gift shop… as well as retail the rest to clients that have been following their wool artistry for many years.
Well, April finally rolled around, and the out-of-state shearing party arrived as scheduled. However, the Sanctuary’s staff ended up having to jump in the middle of the Alpaca wrangling end of things when the ranch’s wranglers came up missing.
Actually, it turned out to be a good adaptation, since we were happy to participate in order to ensure our Alpaca’s visit with the barber turned out to be a positive one. Besides, they’re all so cute that it’s a pleasure to spend time amongst this curious flock!
We started early in the morning and worked with precision. We were able to have two areas where the Alpacas would be laid down to get shaved. As one would be getting his or her hair clipped… the other would be getting his or her hooves trimmed and teeth checked.
The shearer spent the day swapping back and forth while the ranch owners and Sanctuary staff took care of all the oddities like wool collection and doing discretionary medical exams.
We ended up with some pretty slick-looking Alpacas… and they ended up feeling substantially lighter. Their final appearance was definitely charming, as most of them ended up looking more like “Pokey” – “Gumby’s” sidekick of a horse!
When it was all over, the ranchers were forced to spend some time trying to pack 50+ Alpaca’s worth of wool into a regular-sized Chevy van (which ended up being packed solid, floor to roof), while our dainty-looking heard of Alpacas trotted off into the sunset. It’s definitely a new season, and the Alpacas definitely have a new hairdo, so as far as we’re concerned… it feels like everything is in balance again!
Did you like what you just read? Well, make sure to check out the Wild Animal Sanctuary's newsletter page by clicking HERE! Make sure to also like their Facebook page by clicking HERE, and to check out their website by clicking HERE!