"Any question you ever have, the answer you will find in Nature - if you know where to look, and how to ask."
Bryce Courtenay - The Power of One
TRUE NATURE OF THINGS
What the fluff is an alpaca kiss?
An Alpaca initiated 'kiss' is a very special and magic moment to experience - and to capture on film forever.
Alpaca's are naturally inquisitive and gregarious, and it seems that their preferred way of getting to know you is to 'look deep into your eyes', to achieve this they have mastered the 'kiss' (very delicate dry nose bump) strategy.
Two creatures on equal terms, stripped of pretence, lightly present noses to one another and formally greet.
The nature of a 'kiss' is always gentle and soft; however, guests are in control of whether it is a 'kiss' on their presented hand, their cheek, a nose bump or simply an 'air-kiss'. Either way an unforgettable experience and makes for a great photo and memory.
It is a rare moment in life where for a few seconds it is 100% just you and Mother Nature.
Truly one of nature's special moments, worthy of a place on one's bucket list. Second only to a kiss by a dolphin.
For some the process is natural and easy, for others there can be natural trepidation even though the true-self may be willing. However, Alpacas seem to have a 'special something' that allows them to dissolve stress and anxiety on contact - aka Alpaca Magic!
To quote Shakespeare ...."One touch of nature makes the whole world kin"
(last two images by Ben Howland)
It is important to note that health authorities indicate that there is an increased risk of contracting zoonotic diseases if people have close interaction with animals (e.g. letting a dog lick your face). There are precautions that can lower the risk. There are certain people in the community who are at greater risk. For more details click here Petting Zoos and Personal Hygiene - NSW Government
What regions do you service?
Do alpacas spit?
How many alpacas should I have? How long should I have them for?
Ceremony+Formal Photos+Post Ceremony Interaction with up to 50 Guests = 1-2 alpacas for 1.5 - 2hrs.
Ceremony+Formal Photos+Post Ceremony Interaction with 50-100 Guests = 2-3 alpacas for 1.5-2hrs.
Ceremony+Formal Photos+Post Ceremony Interaction with 100+ Guests = 2-3 alpacas for 2hrs.
Formal Photos+Post Ceremony Interaction with ~100 Guests = 2-3 alpacas for 1-2hrs.
Ceremony+Formal Photos = 1-2 alpacas for 1-1.5hrs.
5 -10 guests = 1 alpaca for 1hr
10 - 30 guests = 2 alpacas for 1hr.
30 - 60 guests = 2-3 alpacas for 1-1.5hrs
60 - 90 guests = 2-3 alpacas for 1.5-2hrs
90+ guests = 3 alpacas for 1.5-2hrs
3-5 guests = 1-2 alpacas for 1hr
5-15 guests = 2-3 alpaca for 1hr
10-20 guests = 3 alpacas for 1hr
2-3 alpacas for 3+hrs (up to 6hrs)
100+ guests in a large circle + a few room visits.1-2 alpacas for 1-2hrs.
100+ guests in rooms. 1-2 alpacas for 2-3 hrs.
40 guest / hour if 2 alpacas and 3 handlers and guests coming in and being seated as pairs.
What is the approximate cost?
The cost to have an alpaca attend your event could start from around $270. The cost is calculated based on the nature of the function, number of alpacas, the day of the week, associated travel time and whether you'd like us to take photos for you.
Do I need to check with the venue before booking Alpaca Kisses?
YES. It is important to confirm with your intended venue that they are happy to host a professional alpaca interaction experience.
How can I customise my alpaca experience on the day?
How much fleece will the alpaca have on the day of my reservation?
What is an Animal Assisted Activity?
Following is how the NSW Ministry of Health defines Animal Assisted Activity
What is Animal Assisted Therapy?
Following is how the NSW Ministry of Health defines Animal Assisted Therapy
Do alpacas make for good pets?
Yes,they can do. It is somewhat dependant on your definition of 'pet'. Unlike dogs, which have been bred to be a task orientated animal, including companionship, alpacas are a herd animal that has been specifically bred for its fleece. Alpacas will not sit, roll-over and fetch slippers on command. However, with early and continued gentle interaction, whilst living as part of a herd, they will come over and say g'day, hum, give you a 'kiss', eat from your hand, tolerate a hug, be happy to be halter led and if you are lucky will teach you the fine art of paddock parkour (a.k.a pronking).
What is the best way to say hello to an alpaca?
In general paddock alpacas are very timid and flighty. These are natural instincts that serve them well and help them avoid harm and predation.
Unless specifically trained and handled it is quite difficult to physically interact with alpacas. However, if trained and acclimatised to being around people it is possible to dampen these instincts and have them be comfortable with people and in busy noisy environments.
Every alpaca is different, however in general these guidelines will help you with your interaction – which can be very special and memorable when it occurs.
Before approaching the alpaca directly, ask the handler for any interaction tips.
Alpacas aren’t particularly fans of being touched so keep contact very slow, reserved and brief.
Best to let the alpaca make the approach and the moves.
Try not to rush towards an alpaca or make quick arm/hand movements towards the alpaca. Keep movements slow and reserved.
Do not grab, hold or restrain the alpaca. This can be particularly scary for alpacas. They can feel trapped and vulnerable.
Avoid surprising them with a touch or pat on their back or rump. This can initiate a reactive back leg kick out with some alpacas.
A slowly presented low flat hand can prompt an alpaca to greet it with a gentle ‘kiss’ or gently take a treat that you may have for them.
If you are keen for a ‘kiss’ then place your head down at their level and softly hum (‘mmmm’). If the stars are aligned at the time, the alpaca will approach and say hello by very gently and softly placing their nose momentarily against yours. This is a very special moment. When it occurs, time seems to stand still and for an instant it is just you and mother nature. “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin” ~ William Shakespeare
Be patient and gentle. The handler will know how best to facilitate interaction for you. Listen carefully to them and follow their instructions. They may even move the alpaca away from you (‘reset’) and then re-approach you to initiate a new interaction moment.
Give the alpaca space. Wait your turn for interaction. Like us, alpacas are not fans of being overcrowded.
Do not feed the alpacas unless the handler indicates that it is ok.
Please understand that the handler may need to remove the alpaca from the setting to permit a toilet break or the like.
ASK THE HANDLER FOR SOME LIQUID HAND SANITISER AFTER YOUR INTERACTION. IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT YOU WASH YOUR HANDS AFTER CONTACT WITH SOAP AND RUNNING WATER BEFORE EATING.
What are the options if rain is forcast for my event?
How do llamas differ from alpacas?
What are some basic facts about alpacas?
CAUTION: the following has been discerned from random browsing of the internet and is intended to provide a very rudimentary collection of introductory information about alpacas. This information should be verified through traditional research methods before being used to inform any articles, research or projects.
Alpacas are domesticated versions of vicuñas, South American ruminants that live high in the Andes.
Alpacas are related to llamas, which are domesticated versions of another wild Andean ruminant, the guanaco.
People in the Andes began to domesticate them about 6,000 years ago.
Llamas are used as pack animals, alpacas are raised mainly for their soft wool.
Some Andean people eat alpaca meat. In Peru, it is often served in upscale restaurants
Llamas and alpacas can crossbreed. The offspring are called huarizo.
There are two breeds of alpaca, the Huacaya (pronounced wua'ki'ya) and the Suri (soo'ree ).
Huacaya – soft bonnet of Fibre
Suri – silky dreadlocks of fibre
Alpacas were close to annihilation after the Spanish conquest of the Incas.
They survive in relatively small numbers. 99 percent of the world population of alpacas is found in South America, in herds at altitudes of around 3,500 to 5000m. Peru at approximately 4 million has 75% of the world population. Bolivia around 500,000 and there are only some 50,000 in Chile and Argentina combined.
Imported to Australia and New Zealand in 1989.
Alpacas are currently farmed across the temperate and cooler parts of Australia. By 2001 Australia had 40,000 alpacas. As at 2011-12, the registered herd size in Australia was around 132 000 with an estimated fleece production of 188 tonnes of fibre with a gross value of AU$2.6M..
In 2018 there are 200,000 alpacas registered with 2,300 breaders. The total national could therefore be up near 400,000.
A recent demand from China for fleece is driving an Austrlian Industry push to get numbers up to 1 milllion by 2021.
These unique animals begin life as crias. As they hit the adolescent years, they're called tuis, then grow into hembras (adult females) and machos (adult males).
Alpacas are herd animals and are happiest when in the company of other alpacas.
Live 15 -20 yrs. Grow to 1m at shoulder. Weigh 50 – 85kg. Gestation of 11 months. Birth weight of 6 -8kgs
Australian industry recognises 16 different colours – from black, to tan to white.
Second strongest animal fibre in the world, after mohair.
Alpacas can spit when they are distressed or feel threatened.
Spitting is mostly reserved for other alpacas, but an alpaca will also occasionally spit at a human, particularly if the human is restraining them, pulling their fleece or leg or got on their ‘bad side’ (e.g. called them a llama).
Alpacas communicate through humming (“mmm”) and by ear and tail positions and body postures.
Alpacas don't have teeth in the top-front of their mouths. So, although a serious bite from one is extremely unlikely a curious little ‘nip’ could occur.
The alpaca is an herbivore, grazing on grass and munching weeds, shrubs and trees. They process their food through 3 stomachs where special secretions enable the animal to absorb 50% more nutrients than sheep – allowing them to get away with only consuming 1.5% of their weight/day.
Alpacas use a communal dung pile.
Unique nanobodies produced by the alpaca immune system may, in the future, be used by scientists in the fight against COVID-19.
The four-legged ‘bounce’ when running is known as a pronk and is a joy to witness.
What are the Booking Terms and Conditions?
You can download terms and conditions here.
How do I make a booking?
Can we come and visit your farm?
We have a small hobby farm with many animals, however we like to keep our little place as a sanctuary for our family and for our animals. It is a place where we all love coming home to, a place where we can relax and shake-out after a hard days work. So, unfortunately, the facilitation of farm visits is not something that we do.
What type of events have enquired about using your alpacas to date?
Weddings - pre-ceremony, down the aisle, ring bearer, bookend the ceremony, post-ceremony, formal photographs, cocktail hour entertainment, reception photobooth, ring bearer.
How do you know that the alpacas are not stressed and are comfortable with the interactions that are occurring?
Vet assessments by alpaca specialists declare “excellent health”.
The alpaca appetites are healthy.
The alpacas ‘hang-out’ with us at home. They readily come up to us to see what we are doing and will often park themselves nearby.
When opportunity presents, they on their own accord (without our presence, prompt or food), readily jump into (and hang out in) their van. The van that transports them weekly to various events and functions.
- Interaction with guests is initiated by the alpacas. The handlers lead is loose or in slight tension due to the alpaca favouring the interaction.
- When on assignment and amongst guests the alpacas will readily cush, scratch, toilet, eat, lie down and roll over.
- When on assignment with more than one alpaca they readily circulate and mingle amongst guests independently from one another.
- Their ears are upright and relaxed, and their persona is dominated by curiosity.
- When penned on-site they readily initiate interaction with pen-side guests.
- On one assignment, one alpaca was so relaxed and comfortable that he fell asleep!
What dates do you have available?
We can provide services every day of the week.
Alpacas at a wedding - I don't get it!
At first glance it may seem a bit quirky and out-there, a bit “What the fluff’! However, against all logic and reason Alpaca Kisses is finding that its services are starting to become very popular.
The ‘I don’t get it’ regarding the concept evaporates very quickly when you attend a wedding with alpacas and get to witness and experience firsthand their amazing capacity as social catalysts. Sure, it will not be everyone's cup of tea, but consider for a moment the answer to the following
How could we entertain our guests between Ceremony and Reception when we’re away with the photographer?
What can we do to help break the ice between the respective families and friends that would be very disarming, heaps of fun and extremely engaging?
How can I celebrate and acknowledge my (or my partner’s) South American heritage?
What could we do that would entertain equally all ages?
How could we make our wedding a little different to all the others?
What wedding present could I give that would be unique and remembered forever?
I’m a country Gal/Lad how can I bring ‘country’ to my special day?
We can’t afford a large white stallion or horse drawn carriage. What else could we do?
What could I arrange for the wedding day that would absolutely thrill and surprise my partner?
We love animals, they are a significant part of our life. How can we express, experience and celebrate this on our special day?
We have a great respect and reverence for the natural world, for Mother Nature. How can we have our union witnessed and blessed by ‘her’? How can we have ‘her’ represented at our ceremony?
What could we do to provide a Wow Factor to our day (not surpassing the beauty of the bride) that we could also customize with accessories to create a seamless tie-in to the aesthetic of the day?
If we were to have some animals in attendance what creatures are universally adored, are friendly (when event-trained), curious, well mannered, easy to handle, quiet, able to travel in lifts, house-trained, low-risk, social, exotic, photogenic, able to look both regal and cute at the same time and be affordable?
What is the land equivalent of receiving a ‘kiss’ from a dolphin?
As a couple we travelled extensively, including South America. How can we pay homage to this formative shared experience on our wedding day?
What can we do to help our more reserved, anxious and ‘stiff’ guests to ‘chill’, relax a little and to ‘let go’?
What is something unique and special that we could do for Jane’s Bridal Shower?
What would make for an unforgettable proposal?
We don’t really have someone lined up as a ring bearer, what else could we do?
What photo props could we have that would compliment classical shots and in addition make for fun and spontaneous photos - for both us and our guests?
Often the motivation has no pragmatism attached and is simply “Honey, do you know what. This is our day and, if I was to let go of social expectations and norms, what I’d really love to have at our wedding is alpacas! I just adore them. They are my favorite animal!” More often then not it is the groom expressing this or being the impetus for the gifting of the ‘surprise attendance’ of alpacas on the day.
When considering the above it soon becomes clear why some couples (or gift givers) are choosing this fun wedding experience enhancement.
Experienced interaction facilitators (handlers) accompany each alpaca promoting and creating moments of ‘alpaca magic’. Moments where eruptions of giggles and laughter breaks-the-ice of a diverse social gathering of strangers to moments of reverence, where hearts melt, time stands still and for a moment the whole world is kin.
Who have been some of your clients and hosts?
To name a few -
Where are some of the most extraordinary places you have taken your alpacas?
- Mitchell Reading Room of the NSW State Libray
Government House, Canberra
Level 5, Kent Street, Sydney
Grosvenor Place Piazza
Double Decker Red London Bus
Grand Ball Room, Four Seasons Hotel - Sydney
Rosehill Gardens Racecourse
St Ives Shopping centre
The Botanica, Vaucluse
The Children's Hospital - Westmead
A back alley in Woolloomooloo
...and once we had a young girl turned into an alpaca by a magian.
How can I secure the date for my special occassion?
Easy - with a 50% deposit.
Can Alpaca Kisses supply Gift Voucers or Gift Cards?
Yes - we sure do!