Calgary

Meet the alpaca dazzling children at birthday parties in Airdrie

Allen the alpaca loves lettuce, hates mirrors and will likely eat your houseplants.

Allen the Alpaca loves lettuce, hates mirrors and will likely eat your houseplants

From left to right: Carly Ingeveld, Allen the Alpaca and Morgan Cooper. (Paul Karchut/CBC)

An unusual face has been showing up at children's birthday parties in Airdrie, Alta.

Furry, long-necked, and dressed in a bow tie and sunglasses, Allen the Alpaca has been dazzling kids at their parties as a celebrity guest who occasionally eats the host's house plants.

And these appearances have become so popular, Allen's co-owners Morgan Cooper and Carly Ingeveld said Wednesday on the Calgary Eyeopener that he is booking into April of 2021.

"Allen is anybody's favourite," Cooper said. "He'll just come in, sit down, lay down, pose for photos. Everybody can give him a kiss and a treat."

'It blew up'

Stardom wasn't always the plan for Allen.

Initially bought by Cooper and Ingeveld from a friend who had a horse company and couldn't keep the alpaca anymore, the two women were searching for a new home for him.

But last August, when Ingeveld's niece had a llama at her birthday, it struck her that she could bring along Allen — and the furry, friendly, bright-eyed alpaca was a hit.

His celebrity simply could not be contained.

"After the birthday party, I had about five parents ask me if I would do it for them," Ingeveld said.

Ingeveld conferred with Cooper, and they agreed to begin birthday bookings for Allen.

"And it blew up way bigger than we thought it was going to," Ingeveld said.

Loves lettuce, hates mirrors

Those wondering what it's like to have an alpaca at a birthday should know that for starters, Allen's owners said he doesn't bite.

He does, however, love lettuce and carrots. He also ate a marker once.

And though the literal party animal might graze on potted plants, he won't destroy the hardwood floors.

"Super cool fact: he actually has padded feet, so your floors are safe," Cooper said. "But he is terrified of mirrors; he does not like his reflection."

Allen might be the only one who feels that way.

According to Ingeveld, roughly 95 per cent of children are instantly won over by Allen's fluffy face and friendly disposition. 

Currently a solo act, Allen will soon be part of a duo. He is to be joined by a miniature pig, whom Cooper and Ingeveld are bringing aboard as an add-on, named Fuzzbucket. (Hannah Kost/CBC)

Those that do show initial trepidation eventually change their minds, she said.

"They usually warm up to them by the end, and ... they hug him and kiss him and feed him and jump all over him."

And as business booms, the brand of Allen the Alpaca has already started to expand.

Allen the Alpaca, who loves lettuce and cuddling, is booked for birthday appearances into April of 2021. (Paul Karchut/CBC)

Currently a solo act, Allen will soon be part of a duo.

He will be joined by a miniature pig named Fuzzbucket, whom Cooper and Ingeveld are bringing aboard as an added attraction.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.

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