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By Jonathan Tomlin
An alpaca army invaded Keble’s quads during the vacation as part of the annual World Alpaca Conference.
The conference showcases the creativity of British, European and worldwide alpaca industries.
Representatives from eighteen countries travelled to Keble between the 10th and 12th April, many with their own cuddly alpacas.
Basil Vincent, JCR President for Keble, said: “Keble students were initially a-llama-ed by the woolly thinking that led to College’s domination by the conference trade over Easter.
“Such thoughts were sent alpac-king by getting our Andes on these fine creatures. We wished they were still in Liddon quad, for our Peru-sal.”
The conference was organised by the British Alpaca Society, and all profits go to AMANTANI, a charity working with children in Peru.
The event featured talks on Neonatal Diarrhoea, Alpaca Dentition and ‘Worms Made Easy!’. There was also a workshop on Neonatal issues, which featured a Birthing Box demonstration. The conference also featuwred a fashion show with garments made from alpaca wool designed by British Fashion Students.
One delegate at the conference told the BBC: “Our aim is to get alpaca into everybody’s vocabulary. We want it to take over from cashmere.”
Janet Betts, who oversaw the conference’s organisation at Keble, said: “Seeing as it was near the start of Trinity, when junior members are allowed to walk on the grass, we made an exceptional dispensation so that the alpacas could make a brief foray onto the lawn.
“It would have been difficult to fine the animals, anyway, but all the animals and delegates were lovely and we would be delighted to welcome them back. Being an international conference, however, they may well move around the world to pastures new.”
The alpaca is a domesticated species originally from the Andes, similar to a llama although much smaller. They usually weigh between 48 and 84kg and are most widely used for their fleece. Their fibre is similar to wool and is used in a variety of clothes, textiles, blankets, and South American ponchos.
The species was introduced to the UK 15 years ago and there are now 20,000 in the country. However, with one female alpaca selling for almost £1 million last year in the USA, the animal is unlikely to replace the sheep on a national scale.