“We’re doing something terribly right.” – Kathleen Callan
Oklahoma’s Most Adorable Award-winning Alpacas
By Mary Pryor
Roaming happily among the rolling hills of northeastern Oklahoma are four tiny alpacas that recently made a big impression on a national scale. Bringing home five awards from the Suri Network-All Suri Fleece Show in Loveland, Colorado, this past July, the adorable animals stand unaware of their glory.
Nearly 50,000 Suri alpacas have been registered in the United States through the Alpaca Owners Association, and 48 of them are lucky enough to call the Zena Suri Alpaca ranch in Zena, Oklahoma, near Grand Lake, their home.
The alpacas in Zena are loved by ranch visitors because for their intelligence and individual personalities. The Suri alpaca were prized by the Incan civilization because of their luxurious fleece that hangs in locks.
Owners Kathleen and Tom Callan attended the national spin-off competition, which judged the quality of fiber from Zena’s finest alpacas against some of the best in the country.
“We were shocked and delighted to see that our entries caught the attention of Judge Gabrielle Menn, who spun each sample and had many competitors to choose from,” Kathleen said.
It would be the Callans’ two-year-old gray Suri alpaca formally named Zena’s Peruvian Henny Penny that would bring home a first-place blue ribbon and the prestigious Highest Score in Color Group for the Spin-off Competition. Judge Menn said Henny Penny’s fleece was one of “14 entries in the show that especially caught my attention.”
Now in its 10th year, Zena Suri Alpacas is proud to have built a unique experience on 78 acres of land where thousands of visitors of all ages and from all around the world come to enjoy and learn about alpacas. The free tour gives visitors the ability to feed and pet the alpacas, enjoy a picnic lunch and tour the all-alpaca driven merchandise store with items made with the award-winning fiber.
“Good fleece is produced by alpacas who, in part, have good genetics, but living in a stress free environment helps, as well,” Kathleen said.
While most of the animals are the result of very careful breeding, the Callans purchased a pregnant alpaca that produced a now four-year-old known as Zena’s Peruvian Highwayman that brought home a second-place win for his black fiber, while Zena’s Peruvian Thursday Surprise, whose birth was the result of a gate being left open, took a second for his fawn-colored fiber.
A third-place honor for fawn-colored fiber went to Zena’s Peruvian ZuZu’s Petals, which made the Callans proud because this was a competitive category, and ZuZu’s rating sheet named her as one of the judge’s favorite 14.
Zena’s Peruvian Wrigley, also known as the Little Alpaca Who Won the World Series two years ago, brought home a respectable fifth-place prize in his category.
Keeping up with the ranch keeps the Callans busy, but the stories they share with ranch hand Kelli Crawford are endless.
“We couldn’t do what we do each day if it wasn’t for Kelli,” Kathleen said.
The Callans enjoy meeting tourists and keeping up with their son Tommy, who is working on his Ph.D. in political science from Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois.
For more information or to arrange your visit to Zena Suri Alpacas, you can visit their website, zenasuiralpacas.com, find them on Facebook or call 804.389.2579 to book a tour.