News & Politics

New at the Zoo: Want to Cuddle?

Three Huacaya alpacas are among the latest additions to the National Zoo, but you have only a few weeks left to see their thick coats. Check out our photo slideshow of some of these oddly adorable animals.

Leaping llamas…er, alpacas!

The South American animals, all males, were bought from a Virginia farmer, and they bunk with the cows on the Kids’ Farm.

Ziggy, the brown alpaca, is the biggest, weighing 112 pounds and towering at 41⁄2 feet. Cirrus is the white one; his hair is fluffy like a cloud. Orion, the year-old, weighs only 66 pounds.

“They are very curious animals,” says Margaret Kelty, the zookeeper who has been helping the new arrivals settle in. She says that alpacas are among the few animals domesticated specifically for their fiber—a cashmere-like wool used mostly for clothing and blankets.

“We will shear them in late April or early May; otherwise they will be too hot in the summer,” she says.

Check below for our photo slideshow of the zoo's alpacas.

Photos by Jennifer Molay.