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Alpacas arrive in the Animal Walk

Today we got to welcome two new arrivals to the Horniman Gardens.

  • Alpaca Arrival, George and Percy make their way out of the trailer, Photo by Vicky Pearce
    George and Percy make their way out of the trailer, Photo by Vicky Pearce
  • Alpaca Arrival, The new arrivals make their way through the Gardens to the Animal Walk, Photo by Vicky Pearce
    The new arrivals make their way through the Gardens to the Animal Walk, Photo by Vicky Pearce

George and Percy are two young male alpacas who will be making themselves at home in the Animal Walk.

  • Alpaca Arrival, George and Percy survey their new surroundings, Photo by Vicky Pearce
    George and Percy survey their new surroundings, Photo by Vicky Pearce

Over the coming weeks they will be settling in and getting to know Cat and the rest of the Animal Keepers before the Animal Walk opens later this Summer.

  • Alpaca Arrival, Animal Keeper Cat gets to know the new arrivals, Photo by Vicky Pearce
    Animal Keeper Cat gets to know the new arrivals, Photo by Vicky Pearce

These three aren't too sure about the new boys - they've never seen sheep with such long necks before! Either that or they're just upset at having their limelight stolen.

  • Alpaca Arrival, The sheep aren't so sure, Photo by Vicky Pearce
    The sheep aren't so sure, Photo by Vicky Pearce

George and Percy are here on a holiday from their home in Kent, and will stay here until our own alpaca pair is ready to move in. We hope they feel at home during their stay and that lots of our visitors are able to meet and greet them before they head back.

  • Percy, Photo by Vicky Pearce
    , Photo by Vicky Pearce
  • George, Photo by Vicky Pearce
    , Photo by Vicky Pearce

If you do spot them from the Gardens, they're pretty easy to tell apart. Percy is a little taller, and almost white in colour, while George is a smaller chap in a light brown colour called 'fawn'.

  • Alpaca Arrival, George and Percy start to settle in, Photo by Vicky Pearce
    George and Percy start to settle in, Photo by Vicky Pearce

There are still a few smaller animals to arrive in the Animal Walk before opening. They will all spend time getting to know their new keepers and surroundings, while we make sure they are ready for their admiring public. Watch this space for further updates.

The Horniman Sheep Shearing

Last week, our sheep experienced an important moment in their lives: they were shorn for the first time. We popped down to the Animal Walk to capture the big day on camera, although we're not quite sure the sheep appreciated the audience.

Here's a reminder of what Ted, our Oxford Down sheep, looked like pre-shearing.

Animal Keeper Cat introduces Ted to Tom, assuring him our sheep are well-handled and promise to behave.

  • Sheep Shearing, Animal Keeper Cat makes introductions
    Animal Keeper Cat makes introductions

At first, Ted wasn't quite sure what to make of it.

  • Sheep Shearing, Tom gets to work
    Tom gets to work

But he soon settled down and let Tom do the tricky bits.

Oxford Down sheep are traditionally left with a 'top knot' of fleece. This distinguishes them from other breeds which might look quite similar once shorn.

These guys are next.

All done! Ted seems quite proud of his new look.

  • Sheep Shearing, Ted sporting his new look
    Ted sporting his new look

George inspects what he's sure used to be Ted. Maybe a little nervous that it's his turn next?

  • Sheep Shearing, George patiently waits his turn while Ted's fleece is tidied away.
    George patiently waits his turn while Ted's fleece is tidied away.

Tom also showed us how to roll up a whole fleece, using a twist to fasten it in one bundle.

  • Sheep Shearing, The last fleece of the day is neatly rolled and twisted
    The last fleece of the day is neatly rolled and twisted

The fleece will be washed, picked, carded, spun and finally knitted. We'll share the final product with you once all the hard work is done.

  • Sheep Shearing, Ted's fleece neatly tidied away, ready to be used
    Ted's fleece neatly tidied away, ready to be used

It wasn't long before we had three (slightly smaller) very sharp-looking sheep.

  • Sheep Shearing, Three sharp-looking sheep
    Three sharp-looking sheep

Thanks, Tom!

The Horniman Gardens Animal Walk will open this Summer. Before it does, you can still visit the sheep in their paddock next to the Pavilion building.

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