Alpaca keepers know not to assume everyone knows what an alpaca is. Even when people know they have come to visit alpacas, they often refer to them as llamas. Now, alpacas are related to llamas – and to camels – they are all classed as camelids but llamas are bigger and ‘hairier’ and camels, well, they have the hump!

We halter train our young alpacas at about 6 months when they are weaned from their mums. Ours are walked through Blencogo, as the tarmac is good for their toenails (that’s a future column!) and it gets them accustomed to traffic and people. I have lost count of the number of times a car has slowly driven past us, turned around and come back to ask us what type of dog we are walking. We do try not to laugh out loud!

Recently, a friend of mine heard two delivery drivers arrive at her alpaca farm as she was tending to a cria (baby alpaca) in the shed. The younger of the two asked his colleague what on earth these curious, alien type creatures were. He replied, with some authority: “I think they are a type of

kangaroo…” It took my friend several minutes to compose herself before she could come out of hiding and sign for the package.

We’ve had them described as ostriches too but whatever people think they are, we remain polite and explain that they are actually alpacas. There are two main types in the UK, Suris, which are silky and sleek and Huacayas – which is what we keep and they look like teddy bears. I smile every time I think about the 4-year-old boy who insisted upon meeting them in Maryport that they were indeed teddies and proceeded to gently press Dude’s tummy to see if he would growl...

Here’s the best one I think, and it happens a lot: “Are they real?” Honestly, it’s absolutely true, I am frequently asked that by people of all ages. So, when you ask me about my ‘llamas’ next, you’ll know why I’m quietly smiling as I say, in a slightly deranged fashion, alpacas, alpacas, alpacas!

Kim Inglis Jeffries Blencogo Farm on Facebook


The Lake District Wildlife Park is well-known for the variety of animals that it houses, such as Zebras, Lemurs, Red Pandas, Tapirs, Lar Gibbons, Meerkats, Alpacas, Vultures and Pythons. However, the Park is very proud of its native wildlife as well as the exotic animals it houses. You may not realise but we have extensive areas of natural habitat that is home to a vast array of local wildlife.

Native Wildlife

Visitors to the Lake District Wildlife Park often comment on how green and natural looking the Park is. There are large areas of woodland and grassland within the Park but also as part of the larger Armathwaite Hall Estate, there are two SSSI’s (Sites of Special Scientific Interest), Hay Meadows and land that extends to the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake.

Some of you may remember the big butterfly release that we held last year with local Primary Schools. This year, we took it a step further and visited Wigton Infant School and Gosforth Primary School to help them create wildlife gardens at their Schools. We have also been slowly introducing some more native animals to our collection at the Park, including four Polecats, two Scottish Wildcats and most recently a Tawny Owl, named Scrumpy.

Our staff work tirelessly not only to look after our resident animals but also to protect, conserve and enhance the native habitats and wildlife that we have. Hay meadows are one of Britain’s most threatened habitats and we use traditional


Over the October half-term holiday, together with a number of local wildlife charities and bodies we will have information displays and fun activities to help celebrate and appreciate all our native Cumbrian wildlife. We will be running craft activities, such as making pine cone hedgehogs and bird feeders. We also have some

fun interactive games including ‘Who’s Poo?’, ‘Which Tree?’ and ‘Which Bird?’ Youngsters will be encouraged to become nature detectives, showing them how to look for tracks and signs.

At the end of the week, we will be launching the first of our conservation volunteer days, where we are inviting members of the public to come along and learn about conservation, whilst giving a valued helping hand with tasks such as the removal of invasive species and tree planting. If you are interested in helping, please get in touch!

farming methods to help preserve them and increase biodiversity. Over the years, with the help of volunteers, we have planted thousands of trees on the Whitebecks woodland.

Richard Robinson, Park Manager and the Team Find out more at

017687 76239 ISSUE 430 | 18 OCTOBER 2018 | 18

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