In the Children's Zoo at Zoo Praha in Prague something special happened: two furry babies - an alpaca llama and dwarf zebu -- were born. Both are thriving under the care of their mothers.
Alpaca are related to the camel and the llama. Once nearly driven to extinction by Spanish conquerors, a small number survived high in the Andes Mountains, thanks to their adaptability. Now they populate the mountain plateaus in Chile, Bolivia and Peru. Highly pirzed for their luxurious coats, the alpaca has been a treasured blessing to the people who live near them. Their fleece grows in abundance, in 22 naturally different shades, from black to champagne color, and is easy to shear to make coats, hats, and the like. They are very low maintenance, needing little to drink or eat. They nibble at grasses and do no harm to trees and other plants.
Dwarf Zebu like the ones below are a kind of cow and stand about 4 feet tall (1.22 meters), with a large hump on the shoulders. They have long, slender legs, and a large dewlap -- a fold of loose skin that hangs from the neck. Unlike many other horned animals, their horns point forward.
Found primarily in Sri Lanka, India, and Nepal, they have been mostly domesticated and become very helpful draft animals. Their small size allows them to survive on scarce food supplies, so they are easier to maintain than larger cattle.
Due to the gentle nature of both, these animals make perfect ambassadors for their species in the Children's Zoo, where kids can get up close as they learn about them.
Photo Credit: Tomas Adamec/Prague Zoo