Tokyo residents find comfort in fluffy, street-strolling alpacas

Reuters

The quiet of early morning streets in one downtown Tokyo neighbourhood is broken by joggers, parents with children in strollers - and a pair of alpacas, out for their daily constitutional walk.

On leads held by their keepers, Akane and Satsuki trot down streets past shops and temples, crop grass in a pocket park and share crosswalks with the occasional pedestrian before heading back to their home at an indoor petting zoo, "Alpaca Land".

After a round of brushing and combing, the woolly natives of South America are ready for their day: spending time with visitors who pay 1,000 yen (around AED 26) for 30 minutes petting them, hugging them and burying faces in their fleece.

"The alpaca was so fluffy that when I put my face on its back, its fleece covered half of my face and it was so cute," said visitor Nana Ide.

Manager Shinya Ide (no relation) says the secret to the five-year-old alpacas' appeal is that looking at them is comforting, and petting them even more soothing.

"Alpacas are naturally very nervous and timid animals, so when people approach them, they may spit or run away, making them difficult animals to interact with," he added.

"But these two are trained and have naturally laid-back personalities, so they are accustomed to people now and interact well."

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