Nancy the alpaca makes debut at Toledo Zoo

New 20-pound arrival born on Sunday
Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 6:16 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 5, 2020 at 6:58 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The Toledo Zoo welcomed a new arrival this weekend, and she’s already making new friends. Nancy the alpaca -- all 20 pounds of her -- made her public debut Thursday.

“Our baby alpaca was just born on Sunday, so she’s just about 4 days old now,” explains lead keeper Adam Haynes. “We just shifted her outside yesterday for the first time, exploring the new yards.”

Nancy is named after one of the donors responsible for her new home -- the Nancy L. and Martin Davidson Barnyard -- which has already proven a hit since opening early last month in the old Lodge building. “Everyone seems to love it, especially the kids,” says Haynes. “Any time there’s a new exhibit at the zoo, I think people just eat it up.”

Many visitors may think Nancy is actually a llama at first glance, though there are notable differences. Alpacas are smaller, for one thing, averaging about 150 lbs as adults compared to a llama’s hefty 400 lbs. Alpacas also tend to be known more for their fiber and fleece, having been bred in South America for that purpose for over 5000 years now.

Alpacas and llamas are both related to camels, but Haynes says you don’t have to worry about those fabled “isolated showers” upon your visit. “Alpaca are much less likely to spit than llamas... I know they have that reputation! Sometimes they’ll spit at each other, though, if there’s a little bit of aggression.”

As the Toledo Zoo goes through its reopening stages, they’re allowing more interaction with safety in mind.

“We have hand-washing stations, and limited capacity within the exhibit and zoo,” explains Haynes. “Everyone’s asked to wear a mask when they enter the building.”

Through it all, education through conservation remains at the forefront.

“I think to a lot of people, these types of agricultural animals can be just as novel as a tiger or a bear,” says Haynes. “They can learn the history of where their food comes from, where some of their clothing comes from... it’s a whole new learning experience.”

If you fancy paying Nancy a visit -- or any of the other 40 animals at the Barnyard -- she’ll be out and about from 10am to 4pm every day.

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