The Moscow Zoo’s new winter arrivals include alpacas and a Himalayan blue sheep, raised in the animal nursery. The alpacas, South American relatives of the camel, comprise a male, two females and a baby alpaca, and have settled in the old area next to the yaks. The Himalayan blue sheep lives on the Turya Hill.
The alpaca is a domesticated breed of the vicuna, an animal whose wool has been dubbed ‘the golden rune’. The Incas began breeding the alpaca some 6,000 years ago, and to this day keep alpacas at specialised farms in the Andes. The animals are appreciated above all for their very warm and light wool. Once the Children’s Zoo has been completed, the alpacas will move there, to the domesticated animals farm.
Visitors to the Moscow Zoo will have a chance to see a Himalayan blue sheep for the first time. The male sheep has arrived, for a time, from the animal nursery, where a large group of these sheep live and breed on a regular basis.
In the wild, blue sheep are found high in the mountains in Nepal, China, Pakistan and India. They live on open slopes and plateaus with dense grass cover at an altitude of 2,500-2,600 metres and higher, and keep close to rocky outcrops, where they seek shelter in moments of danger. Their grey-brown coat with a blue tint provides good camouflage against the bluish rocks and brown grass. Blue sheep are very hardy and resist heat and cold well. They live in herds of up to several dozen or even hundreds of animals, and snow leopards and leopards are their main enemies.