PETA circulated a video taken at a farm in Peru during their alpaca shearing that shows one alpaca being roughly handled, with the implication that this is standard operating procedure everywhere. Nothing could be further from the truth – and, in fact, the farm in question has denounced the one-off incident and already addressed the situation to prevent it from ever happening again. They also state that they have been in talks with PETA about the situation … but you won’t hear that from PETA.
Nor will you hear from PETA that alpacas are domesticated animals who need to be sheared annually for their health. Left unshorn, their fleece will continue to grow. It can mat. It can cause or contribute to injuries and illness, including overheating, infertility, miscarriage and even death. Not shearing is cruel.
PETA uses inflammatory language designed to illicit emotions from people who don’t know the whole story – which PETA won’t tell. For example, PETA describes the simplistic restraints used during shearing as resembling a “Medieval torture rack” and states deliberately misleading things like “nearly wrenching their legs out of their sockets.”
Alpacas are restrained with simple ropes during the very brief shearing process for their safety. If they moved while a razor is against them, they could incur injury. This process does not hurt them and does not last more than a few minutes. But PETA won’t tell you that.
PETA claims the alpacas huddled in fear or vomited in fear. Alpacas are herd animals and naturally gather closely, particularly in stressful or new situations. The images supplied by PETA do not indicate fear or vomiting.
Many animals – and children – are nervous or scared when undergoing routine health exams. However, it is important for the well-being of everyone to have certain procedures and checks performed. While alpacas are safely restrained, many farmers trim toe nails, check teeth, give vaccinations and/or do fecal exams. This may be unpleasant, but it is momentary and necessary.
PETA does not seem to know much about the care of alpacas. Instead, the organization speculates, using language like “possibly” and “appeared to” and “apparently” and “no doubt.” They quote unnamed so-called “experts” without consulting true experts such as the Alpaca Ownership Association or an experienced camelid veterinarian.
PETA’s own president, Ingrid Newkirk, stated that if left in the wild, alpacas would not need to be sheared: Nature would take care of it. This is blatantly untrue. She doesn’t seem to realize that there have never been wild alpacas and that alpacas don’t shed, so Nature would not take care of the many pounds of fleece they produce. Photos of rescued alpacas who haven’t been shorn for years reveal the detrimental effects of not shearing.
Please don’t mistake PETA’s propaganda for balanced reporting. They did not investigate the industry and don’t seem interested in hearing that this one-off incident is not indicative of how the alpaca industry shears or treats animals. Their anti-alpaca campaign is unfair sensationalism largely based on half-truths, exaggerations and misinformation.
PETA’s report is not a fair representation of the alpaca industry. Alpaca fleece is considered environmentally friendly & the animals are typically treated with the utmost care. Their fiber, considered a luxury fleece better than cashmere, has wonderful thermal properties. It is lightweight, soft, warm, breathable, renewable, water-resistant and flame-resistant. Alpacas are easy on the landscape and their fleece is humanely harvested.
On a personal note, I was a longtime PETA member, but due to their irresponsible and inflammatory campaign against alpaca shearing, I cancelled my membership and no longer support them – and I resent like hell this smear campaign, particularly since PETA’s CEO wears alpaca socks. Get the facts from other sources. Visit alpaca farms to witness in person. Just please don’t rely on PETA to tell you the whole truth.
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