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First baby alpaca born at Co Down open farm just so cute

By Laura Abernethy

Published 31/07/2015

Lexi (7) and Hannah (4) Young take a close look at the baby alpaca at the Ark Open Farm yesterday
Lexi (7) and Hannah (4) Young take a close look at the baby alpaca at the Ark Open Farm yesterday
The baby alpaca at the Ark Open Farm yesterday

There's a fluffy new addition at Ark Open Farm.

An adorable alpaca is finding his feet and getting to know the hundreds of other animals on the farm outside Newtownards, where he was born on Monday.

Staff are still trying to come up with a suitable name.

Farm owner Lorraine Donaldson explained: "We try to think of a Peruvian name, because that's their native country. For example, his mother is called Lima."

He is one of four alpacas at the farm but the first baby (or cria) to be born, and is already becoming a big star with the hundreds of children visiting in the school holidays. "It's been attracting lots of attention. He's so cute," Lorraine added.

The furry creatures have increased in popularity. The British Alpaca Society says there are now more than 37,000 in the UK.

In the wild, alpacas live in the Andes in South America and are prized for their luxurious fleece.

Although a long way from their natural habitat in the fields of Co Down, Lorraine said they don't take much looking after. "They're very easy to manage. They eat goat feed or sheep feed and they get hay and water. At lambing time we put them out in the field with the sheep and the fox doesn't like the scent of the alpaca, so they protect the sheep."

Ark's alpacas are sheared every two years and their wool is sold to local hand spinners and then knitted into beautiful, soft clothing.

The newest addition arrived in time to join celebrations for Ark Open Farm's 25th anniversary in a few weeks' time.

Lorraine and her husband Stewart started the farm in 1990 and have been developing it ever since. They have hundreds of other animals including ducks, donkeys, ponies, pigs, rare breed cattle and reindeer.

Lorraine added: "It's been a lifetime of work."

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