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Alpaca breeders donate fleece for oil cleanup

May 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Local alpaca breeders are doing their part to help with the cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico by donating unused fleece to soak up all that oil. Breeders gathered at Rowland Heights to bag and ship the oil-absorbing materials.It is their yearly routine. Each spring, alpacas in a San Bernardino County ranch get a haircut. Their fleece is a valuable commodity that normally gets made into clothing and blankets. However, this year all the alpaca hair is going to the gulf.

"If everybody did this, it would be a huge impact because there is actually probably, my guess is there are a couple thousand alpacas in Southern California alone," said San Bernardino County alpaca rancher Margo Perryman.

Perryman is on a crusade to encourage all alpaca farmers in California to donate portions of their fleece to help absorb the millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.

"The fleece is used as a hair absorbent. It is put into nylons. They put it out in the ocean and the water passes through and the fleece soaks up the oil. Then they reuse it again one more time. Then, they actually squeegee the oil out, recycle the oil and then they incinerate or use natural decomposition methods to get rid of the fleece," explained Perryman.

It's something hundreds of hair dressers and dog groomers are currently doing to help soak up the oil in the gulf.

Each alpaca can provide up to 12 pounds of hair.

"There might even be as many as 5,000 alpacas in southern California, because there's several farms with several hundred animals and if you start multiplying that, it gets pretty big," said Perryman. "It could be a huge impact."

It may look like it hurts them, but don't worry. After a pain-free haircut, these guys have a new look for summer.

Contact marbrialpacas@homestead.com to learn more about donating fleece or funds to help with the oil cleanup efforts in the Gulf of Mexico.


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