A Spittoon of Alpacas: Friends of Moyo
Today is Alpaca Day.
On the Blue page of “Moyo’s Journey” we see a pair of inquisitive llamas – close relatives of the alpaca, but with a few differences.
Here are some fun facts about these Friends of Moyo:
Alpacas have short spear-shaped ears and blunter shaped faces while the lengthier faced llama has longer, banana shaped ears. Llamas also have less hair on their heads and faces than alpacas.
Alpacas are shorter at around 35″ high, weighing less than half of their taller cousins, who can tip the scales at as much as 400lb and stand at around 43”.
For more than 5,000 years alpacas have been bred for their coats (and in Peru for meat as well), while llamas have traditionally been bred as pack animals and for their meat.
Alpacas produce a finer and greater quantity of fleece than llamas, in a wider variety of colors. The alpaca also produces more fleece than its larger cousin and in a much greater variety of colors. Llamas also generally do not have as much hair on their head and face as alpacas do.
While Alpacas are herd animals – I like to call the collective noun a spittoon – llamas are more independent creatures and are often used as guard animals for alpacas, sheep, and other small livestock.
Oh and they all love sunbathing!
A bit of history…
I found this story from Andean mythology and thought I would share it here:
According to both the Aimara and Quechua-speaking peoples of South America, the ancient world was comprised two superimposed worlds, the upper and the lower.
The lower world was populated by enormous herds of plump, sleek alpacas belonging to the Apu, or mountain god, and were tended to by his daughter. The alpacas of the upper world, by contrast, were far fewer in number and were inferior in quality, with only a short fleece
Because the Apu’s daughter had difficulty in protecting her alpacas from the region’s numerous predators, her father arranged for her to marry a young herdsman from the upper world who could help her tend these herds. The Apu’s daughter and her husband lived contentedly in the lower world for a while until the young herdsman began to grow homesick. He told his wife that he wished to return to his own world, and to enrich it with the lower world’s herds of alpaca.
The mountain god’s daughter agreed and, collecting her alpacas, began traveling via the springs and lakes to live with her husband in the upper world. Her father’s only condition to his daughter’s marriage was that her husband was always to take good care of the herds and especially of a tiny alpaca that always had to be carried. Sadly, the daughter’s husband proved to be lazy and one day dropped the tiny alpaca on the ground, leaving it to fend for itself.
When his wife saw this she took fright and immediately ran to the nearest spring and began swimming towards the lower world. The alpacas followed her, although a few were prevented from doing so by the herdsman.
Ever since, the alpacas of the upper world have remained near springs and lakes. There, they continue to yearn after their mistress who, as yet, has never returned.
The myth of the origin of alpacas contains a basic lesson that is still understood by Andean herders today – in the beginning life was difficult, by the grace of the mountain gods, alpaca herds increased, the world became fertile and life for a time became leisurely. Mankind then disobeyed the gods’ wishes, causing the herds to decline so that now they must be tended to continually.”