Just when you think you’ve seen everything….
Here’s the story behind the photo. This Peruvian surfer is Domingo Pianezzi, who lives near Lima, Peru. The alpaca’s name is Pisco. He trained the alpaca to surf because it’s a Peruvian animal, but this was hardly his first foray into training animals to surf:
Mr Pianezzi, who teaches surfing to children and has competed before at international contests for people and their surfing dogs, came up with the idea of hitting the waves with an alpaca while visiting Australia.
“I’ve surfed with a dog, a parrot, a hamster and a cat, but when I was at a competition in Australia I saw people surfing with kangaroos and koalas,” said Mr Pianezzi, who trains the alpaca in the Peruvian beach town of San Bartolo.
“So I thought that, as a Peruvian, it would be interesting to surf with a unique animal that represents Peru.”
Alpacas are domesticated vicuñas, which are one of two species of Andean camelid. They live in the high country, but they are really not adapted to being cold and wet for long periods.
They are also somewhat resistant to getting in the water for obvious reasons, but this has required a lot of training:
Unlike a labrador, an alpaca does not instinctively jump into the sea for a swim.*
However, Pisco, named after the distinctive Peruvian liquor distilled from grapes, is getting used to the water, according to Mr Pianezzi.
I don’t think that this is necessarily cruel, provided that the alpaca is dried off as soon as possible and it is not made to stay in the water for very long.
Surfing with alpacas.
Strange but true.
*Labradors don’t instinctively jump into water either. They do only because they become comfortable in the water and their strong desire to retrieve compels them to make the jump.