Exotic critters meet the public

An open house with furry and frieldy alpacas and llamas continues today at Wheatland Alpacas.

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Alpacas and llamas at Wheatland Alpaca got a healthy dose of human visitors Saturday at the farm's open house, which goes on today.

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Alpacas and llamas at Wheatland Alpaca got a healthy dose of human visitors Saturday at the farm's open house, which goes on today. The animals got a break from the heat including a splash of water for one, from co-owner Cecilia McKean.

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Alpacas and llamas at Wheatland Alpaca got a healthy dose of human visitors Saturday at the farm's open house, which goes on today.

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Alpacas and llamas at Wheatland Alpaca got a healthy dose of human visitors Saturday at the farm's open house, which goes on today.

LOWDEN - Three dogs, a rooster, 18 chickens and a handful of goats couldn't compete with 19 alpacas and four llamas this weekend at Wheatland Alpacas' open house on Stovall Road.

Co-owners Cecilia McKean and Jan Kruper are holding their eighth annual open house this weekend at their farm.

This year the event includes showing off the newly converted barn store, where all types of alpaca products were sold.

"It's a hair product. And just like we wash our hair, wash it with shampoo," Kruper told the customer, who had just bought a $125 alpaca sweater.

Outside the store, paddocks of segregated alpacas and llamas had guests flocking to the rails to get closer looks and photos.

Many had questions about shearing, predators and mating, which also had to do with the segregation.

The alpacas were separated in male and female paddocks, McKean explained, because unlike other animals, the females have no estrus period.

The act of mating stimulates ovulation, hence the need to keep them apart, McKean said.

Other interesting facts were posted around the rails.

At times, alpacas were brought out for petting.

Many people said they came just to satisfy their curiosity and shop.

"We don't have alpacas. Just curious. We just thought it would be a good thing to do with the boys," Scott Elliott said, as Gus, 4, and Harper, 1, enjoyed a day with alpacas, mom and dad.

One of the interesting facts the family learned on their outing is that baby alpacas aren't too different from Gus and Harper.

"We learned that the babies like to play. It is called pronking. So we asked Gus if he liked to pronk," Elliot said.

The answer was yes.

The second and final day of the annual Wheatland Alpaca open house takes place today, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., 2010 Stovall Road.

The event is free, and food and beverages are available to purchase.

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