If ever an animal looked as if it were a Dr. Seuss creature, it has to be the alpaca, prized for its fiber coat, which makes a sought-after wool for knitting. At last month's New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, I was in the right place and time to be a spectator at the alpaca parade, as they were walked through the fairgrounds at Rhinebeck, New York.
They are closely related to llamas and vicuna, and not at all, it turns out to sheep. They're part of a family that includes camels, though! Tame as they seem in these pictures, they are known as aggressive and irritable, and one of their signs of irritation is spitting at the source of the irritation. Step back!
Alpacas come in such a wide variety of natural colors that Peru, their original home, recognizes more than four dozen colors, and the U.S. sixteen.
And, if you're wondering what they look like after they've been shorn, here's a Picture of the Day from last May: