The animals living in Hamill Family Wild Encounters are truly an intercontinental group of creatures. They represent species that come from all over the world, including the frigid northern tundra, the towering Andes, and the Australian Outback. You will be able to interact with some of them in a hands-on way. Get to know them better here!
Range: Andes Mountains of Western South America (Domesticated Worldwide)
Along with llamas, alpacas were a treasured part of the daily lives of people of the Incan culture for many centuries. While the larger llamas did the heavy lifting, alpacas provided wool for blankets and clothing. In fact, the fibers from their wool were so valuable, only members of the royal family were allowed to wear clothing made from them. Alpaca wool is a great insulating fabric in harsh weather.
Range: Eastern Australia and Tasmania
Wallabies are hardy all-weather animals. Their thick fur keeps them protected from harsh snows and cold weather in their native habitat. You would think thick fur has disadvantages, but wallabies don’t sweat the warm weather, either. They lick their arms and hands, which causes their saliva to evaporate, cooling them off. They also have a lot of sense: they can move their ears 180 degrees to pick up the sounds of potential predators.
Range: Throughout Australia
Australia is known for its extreme animals. Emus are the largest bird in that country and the second largest flightless bird in the world (after ostriches). Australians have made these animals the unofficial national bird. Emus appear on everything from the Australian coat of arms to postage stamps and money.
Goats are everywhere. They are found worldwide just because they are such useful animals. They provide milk, meat, hides for various uses, and even companionship. People and goats have had a close relationship for a long time. Their domestication started about 10,000 years ago as farmers began keeping small herds of goats. They are considered easier to keep than cows.
Range: Andes Mountains of Western South America
Although they are stronger than horses in relation to their size, llamas are considered to be very gentle animals. (The Incan people called them “silent brother.”) That—combined with their willingness to carry heavy loads on their back, as well as their use as a food source—have made them very popular animals in South America for centuries. In some places, however, llamas guard sheep because these animals can be very protective against predators.
Range: Throughout Australia
Hundreds of species of parakeets are found all over the world, with the most kinds in Australia. They also live in Asia, Africa, Central America, and South America. Parakeets are popular as pets, thanks to their manageable size, agreeable personality, dazzling feathers, easy maintenance, and availability in pet stores.
Range: Southeast Asia
People probably know giant pandas better than they do red pandas, but no one is quite sure how the two species are related. (Some scientists think raccoons sit on a branch on this particular family tree.) In the wild, red pandas and giant pandas chomp on bamboo as their main food source, but the smaller pandas supplement with treats like berries and eggs.
Range: Arctic Regions of Asia, Europe, and North America
Known as caribou across the Canadian Arctic, these wild animals have traditionally been hunted by the Inuit and Dene people for food and fur. Hunting is now regulated to conserve the caribou population. In Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia, they are called reindeer, and they have long been herded by the Sami people (Laplanders). These people still rely on reindeer as a source of milk and meat.