The South American ‪Guanaco‬ At The San Diego Zoo

Guanaco‬

The South American ‪Guanaco‬

What could be better than getting to make friends with a South American Guanaco?What a joy! These beautiful and graceful animals are related to the camel. They have a soft woolly coat that is treasured by weavers, knitters, and those who crochet. They are extremely easy-going and over the years were domesticated. The Llama and the Alpaca are the results of their domestication. What a treasure to be able to use their wool. Their under-belly, hind quarters, and the backs of their slender legs are most generally  white. The Guanaco's narrow head, tall straight ears, and back of their neck are most often gray. It is unbelievably soft. It is much softer than the wool of sheep. All three of these fibers are an asset to any needle worker. The Guanaco is amazing!

When standing at attention, they are less than 4 feet tall at the shoulders. They are much shorter and smaller than their cousin, the camel. The male Guanaco can often weigh up to 265 pounds. They appear much slimmer and more delicate than the camel and they have no hump. Know that appearance is deceiving, as they are extremely strong and durable.

Due to their even temperament, sure footedness, and just all around dependability, they make awesome pack animals. They have the patience of a saint. These wonderful pack animals seemed to know where to plant their feet. They handle small canyon trails like a pro. This was yet another reason they were domesticated and we now have Llamas. The Llama makes wonderful pack animals, just as their ancestor, the Guanaco. If you need a dependable pack animal, you will want a domesticated Guanaco or Llama. Life is steady and sure with a Guanaco.

Another ability that was quickly recognized is their worth as guard animals. They make awesome guards for flocks of sheep or goats. Thus you often see their domesticated version, the Llama, guarding the flock. When predators do come for a visit, the whole neighborhood knows it. It is usually a cougar or a wolf looking for a meal. Their deathly shrill-like scream will wake up the dead. At the San Diego Zoo, if a trainer happens to walk past their enclosure with a wolf, the whole pack will begin screaming. A predator is a predator, even on a leash. Guanacos and Llamas are worth their weight in gold.

If you need an animal that can make their way fast on uneven and desert terrain, you will want the Guanaco. They are avid runners and can be clocked at 40 miles an hour. Baby Guanacos called guanaquitos or chulengos are avid runners soon after birth. The Guanaco is not shy around water. They are excellent swimmers and treasure a day lying around in a stream in the country-side.  If you want a good running buddy, then the you will want a guanaquito. The two of you can grow and run together, and when you need a break, find a stream.

So, when was the last time you spent a few minutes admiring the magnificent Guanaco? If you have never spent time with these trustworthy animals from South America, then why not grab the family and head for the zoo? The weather is usually perfect for a day at The San Diego Zoo.

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  1. We had a chance to take a five hour hike along side of a large herd of Guanacos, on a recent trip to Patagonia. Graceful, elegant and quite funny up close. Does the SD zoo also have South American Rheas?

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