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Alpacas guard sheep from foxes in Ewell animal centre
An alpaca based at the animal care centre
Alpacas at the animal care centre have been known to charge at foxes

Three alpacas have been drafted into an animal care centre to help guard lambs from urban foxes.

The Peruvian mammals have been loaned to the centre, in Nescot College, Ewell.

According to staff at the centre, the alpacas become extremely protective of the sheep.

And with lambing season beginning they hope the animals - which are related to llamas - will stop any lambs from being killed.

Zoe Brown, from the centre, said the Vauxhall City Farm, in south London, had loaned the alpacas.

"The alpacas do look appealing but you wouldn't want to mess with them," she said.

"They're very protective of the sheep and lambs and, when a big dog fox tries to take one, they'll just drive it off."

'Humming'
Animal care lecturer Sarah Cudd
Animal care lecturer Sarah Cudd feeding the sheep and the alpacas

The animal centre specialises in the care of native and exotic animals in an urban setting.

According to Ms Brown, fox attacks are quite infrequent at the centre.

"It's a very rare occurrence, but we have to make sure our lambs are looked after to the highest standards, so this is taking special care," she said.

Alpacas are native to Peru and are renowned for their hardiness and ability to survive in extreme conditions.

Ms Brown said they do "all sorts of weird and wonderful things", including humming.

She said: "When they're relaxed it's a lovely gentle sound, but if they are worried about something it takes on a distinctive warning note."




SEE ALSO
An essential guide to alpacas
12 Jan 10 |  People & Places
Girl, 13, bitten by fox in garden
28 Jul 10 |  Surrey
Trust seeks grassland volunteers
13 Feb 11 |  Surrey


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