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Alpaca open house delights city residents

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)–It’s quite possibly one of the most unique “Open Houses” in the history of Richmond’s Bellevue neighborhood, and it brought alpacas within city limits.

Teri Phipps and her husband David Schieferstien own 25 alpacas, all of which live at various farms in Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. 

On Sunday, they brought three young males to their home on Crestwood Road for people from the community to come and check out up close. 

The alpacas hung out inside a small corral set up the couple’s driveway from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“A lot of folks haven’t ever seen alpacas, or they’ve heard of them.  But they’ve not actually had the opportunity to come and touch one,” says Phipps.

More than 200 people turned out to see the alpacas, many of them drawn in by signs Teri and David posted throughout Northside saying “Alpaca Open House.”

“It’s so fun, not something I’d thought we’d have, but still great,” say Sarah Berry, who lives in Bellevue and brought her son, Evan, to see the animals.

Alpacas were first domesticated by the Incas Indians thousand of years ago; so many breeders consider them to be livestock.

However, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries actually categorize them as nonnative (exotic) animals.

Richmond City code allows residents to display exotic animals at events at long as proper barriers are set up to separate the animals from the public, just like Teri and David did.

“It’s a really wonderful opportunity to do this.  This is a wonderful Christmas gift for me,” says Phipps.

To check out more about Teri and David’s alpacas go to their website: http://www.fireweedalpacas.com

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