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When is shearing time?

Hi there, my name is Wendy, and I am a member of the team at the Outback Station, which also means that I get to work closely with our petting zoo herd. One of the most frequent questions that we get is, “How often do you shear the sheep?” Since that time is just around the corner, they will be shorn soon (along with the alpacas), usually in April right before we start feeling the warm summer weather. Sheep do not shed like the goats do, so it is 100% necessary for this to happen so that the sheep are comfortable.

What do we do with the wool, you ask? Well, some of it becomes scent enrichment for our carnivores here at the Zoo. Enrichment is something that all the animals get daily, and it is something that simulates natural behaviors for that particular animal. Carnivores are naturally predators, and the sheep are a prey animal, so the smell of the sheep is enriching for the carnivores. Last year, we were also able to send some of the wool to be cleaned and then spun in to yarn. Fun fact: the alpacas’ fleece is environmentally friendly! Alpacas can be as many as 22 colors, from a true blue-black to tans to white. Next time you visit the Zoo, the sheep and alpacas may have gotten their “summer dos!”

Wendy R.
Keeper III, Ambassador Animals  

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl