Alpacas, Sustainability and Earth Day

Between the colorful turkey proudly strutting through the festival and the live beehive exhibit, the non-human attendees captured countless imaginations at Santa Barbara’s Earth Day Festival yesterday. 

Perhaps hardest to miss were the three alpacas, nonchalantly munching on alfalfa while unsuccessfully attempting to ignore their newfound fame and glory. Even NBC Los Angeles was so enamored with these unique creatures that they mentioned them in the lead headline for their Earth Day story.  The alpacas belonged to the passionate and animated Hayley Jessup.

Jessup works with alpacas at West Ranch — the center for education and celebration of alpaca ownership. The ranch is run by a group of women who came together in 2005 to offer breeding services, a boarding facility, and goods made from alpaca fur. Jessup explained that the alpaca ranch has a low impact on the environment — the animal fur requires no chemicals to clean and the ranch has always made sustainability a priority.

Surprisingly, in all of her years working closely with alpacas, Jessup has only been spit at a handful of times — 10 at most, she says — and usually only because she was caught in the crossfire.

-Jenna Ryan

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