Woodlawn welcomes new alpacas following wild dog attack
AFTER tragically losing two of its three alpacas in a wild dog attack in March, St John's College Woodlawn has welcomed a very generous donation from the Australian Alpaca Association.
A pregnant female with the cute name of Moonglow is expected to arrive at the school with her "cria" (baby) after giving birth in July.
In addition to the mother-to-be, the school also raised enough money to purchase two more 10-month year old females, Florence and Sabine, which arrived yesterday.
Yesterday students gave a warm welcome to the new pair, delivered by Bob and Jackie Coxon from the local branch of the Australian Alpaca Association.
Year 11 student Anna McNaught said she thought the animals were both captivating and cute.
"They're not an everyday animal," she said.
Besides the cute factor, Woodlawn agricultural teacher Mick Melino pointed out there was a serious side to having the animals at the school.
Students will study the animals as an introduction to agricultural production, learning about their feeding habits, their digestive system, nutrition, diseases, and their fleece quality.
"This is not pet care," Mr Melino explained.
"Students being students they love the cute factor... but you do need to make them understand it's about food and fibre production."
He said the school would hopefully be able to breed the animals and even sell some as part of the curriculum.
Bob Coxon, a breeder from Goodwood Island on the Clarence, said the Australian alpaca industry was growing fast and poised to become a breeding powerhouse with among the best genetics in the world.
Mr Coxon said the animals were exported throughout the world, with recent shipments to China and Turkey.
He also explained that a damaging misconception that had developed around alpacas that they could fend off wild dog attacks.
"They can protect themselves against one dog, but not a pack of dogs."
"Foxes aren't a problem for them, but when it comes to wild dogs - one dog is OK, but once they pack up it's impossible."
But the myth had been perpetuated to the point that some breeders cashing in on the myth and selling them as protection animals.
We don't sell them to guard against wild dogs," Mr Coxon said. "I don't support it all."
Fortunately, Woodlawn's precious flock of five will spend their evenings in enclosures rather than the paddock, to prevent a similar tragedy happening again.