Camillus: Alpacas find home in CNY

Cynthia Carr loves her alpacas.

When she decided to start, she said she began looking for an animal that she could manage herself and that would not overpower her.

Carr was hooked on the idea of an alpaca farm after visiting Peru with her husband and experiencing wild alpaca on the Alto Plano, a region of the Andes. The couple purchased a former horse farm in Camillus and Carr renovated the property into Gossamer Farm, home of Zen Alpacas.

Carr started her foundation herd in 2003 with three females, and aside from two males she purchased later, the rest of the herd of 11 were born on the farm - all of them male.

The spit test

Last week, Carr was waiting for two of her long-overdue females to give birth, and hoping for more females.

Carr has noticed that while the low-key animals can be playful at times, new mothers are especially giddy.

New moms will nuzzle Carr, and act as if they want to show her their accomplishments, she said. That's quite a change in the way they act when pregnant.

After attempting to mate two alpacas, Carr reintroduces the male to the female after a few days of their initial meeting.

If she spits at him, she's pregnant.

"They'll do that all through pregnancy," Carr said. Though, unlike the llamas to which alpacas are often likened, they do not often spit at people, and when they do it is the peak of their aggression.

A popular pet

Carr said New York is home to the fastest growing number of alpaca farms in the country. So what makes them such attractive pets?

Carr believes it is because they are exotic pets, but very easy to take care of. She administers a shot to each of her alpaca once every six months to prevent them from picking up a parasite carried by deer, and shears them once a year, in the spring.

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