FANNIN COUNTY, Tex. -- They are originally from the Andes Mountains in Peru, but over the past hundred years have spread out to all parts of the world including here in Texoma. We're talking about alpacas, an animal some might have heard of but that many don't know much about. One local woman has taken in this lovable creature, and she doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon.
Welcome to the Shaggy Chic Suri Ranch in Fannin County, a place where for the past five years one can find the largest number of alpacas in the state. Sharlene Parks is the one responsible for bringing them to their new home.
"I thought they were the cutest things I have ever seen and I love animals and I had to have some."
"I can’t imagine my life without these things...I just love them."
There are 67 alpacas on the Parks’ property. Most are Suri's, one of the two classes of alpacas. They come in all shapes and sizes from as small as nibbles, who parks nursed back to good health to as big a rare Grey Suri from Peru worth $72,000.
Parks says even though she and her husband have spent thousands of dollars on their alpaca operation, the reward has been just as plentiful.
"Alpaca is a fiber that is well at one time it was considered only for the Inca royalty and they were the only ones that were allowed to have garments made out of it."
The Suri's breed, whose fur is sheered off once a year without hurting the animals, is used to make a variety of items from purses to blankets, teddy bears and socks.
Parks says if taken care of properly alpaca fiber could last up to 100 years, but with the large number of animals spanning several acres comes security issues.
"Coyotes are another problem you could have, but we have good dogs in our pastures, livestock guardian dogs that do a great job."
Next week, Parks and her husband will take several of the alpacas to Fort Worth to compete against others from the state but her property is open all year round to visitors, and right now she is working on developing the property to do just that.
"We love to have visitors and we have people that come out frequently and then three hours later they leave, we just like people to feel at home here and spend time with the animals and just enjoy nature."