Alpacas bring smiles to St. Andrews Village residents

Posted:  Monday, October 2, 2017 - 8:45am

Cape Newagen Alpaca Farm hosted 12 St. Andrews Village residents Sept. 27. The farm’s owners, Anne Gobes and husband Michael Ciccarelli, rounded up an even dozen female alpacas toward the front gate to talk about the animals and let the guests feed and pamper them.

Resident Services Supervisor Barb Marr and LincolnHealth Activities Coordinator Wendy Wood were along for the ride on St. Andrews Village’s activities bus.

“We enjoyed (this) beautiful, sunny afternoon at the farm (and) learned lots of interesting facts about alpacas,” said Marr. “They are very curious and smart animals. It was great to see the residents feed them treats and see all the smiles!”

Gobes often had to lure the alpacas back toward the gate with treats and required most of them — the trained ones — to give her a kiss before getting their snack. At one point, Gobes called Ciccarelli over to the gate.

“He's like the alpaca whisperer,” Gobes said to their guests before focusing back on her husband. “You have to come over here because they like watching you.”

At this point, the alpacas were more interested in the other side of their pen as one of the animals attempted to open the gate closest to all the boys.

“We're going to try to grab one of them now,” said Gomes. “We typically don't grab them in open spaces because they are very fast. When they are sitting and they are ‘cushed,’ they're ready to get up because in the wild they would have to flee from predators.”

Ciccarelli managed to wrangle and corral young Winterberry toward the fence for the residents to pet. He showed them her feet and talked about how the critters come from the higher altitudes of South American countries like Peru, Chile and Bolivia.

“Last year was like a beach day for them with the mild winter,” said Ciccarelli.

One woman asked, “They have two toes? That's amazing!”

Feeding the critters was a hit for the residents, a few who gave exclamations including “Who's hungry,” “Mmm. That's good,” “She didn't slobber on me,” and “Woo! That's my hand!”

Marr was quite happy with Gobes and Ciccarelli as hosts of the fun outing. “It was wonderful to see the fleece being spun into yarn as lots of our folks are knitters,” said Marr. “And one resident used to spin yarn herself, so it brought back wonderful memories."