Date
26 September 2017
Alpaca owners must keep all the papers relating to the purchase just in case some neighbors complain to authorities. Photo: Taobao.com
Alpaca owners must keep all the papers relating to the purchase just in case some neighbors complain to authorities. Photo: Taobao.com

A grass-mud horse for a pet? It’s not an act of protest

The Alpaca, a domesticated South American camelid that resembles a llama, is now available at Alibaba’s online shopping mall Taobao.com. And it’s not just a stuffed toy, it’s alive.

Chinese netizens are familiar with the alpaca’s online counterpart, the grass-mud horse, an internet meme widely used as a symbol of defiance against internet censorship in China whose pronunciation in Chinese sounds very much like a profanity.

Keeping an alpaca as a household pet probably won’t be interpreted by authorities as an act of protest. But it could be costly, not to mention the hard chores involved.

The price for an alpaca is between 50,000 yuan (US$8,000) and 60,000 yuan at several Taobao stores, am730 reported on Tuesday. A down payment of 10,000-20,000 yuan is required before it is shipped to China, where it must be quarantined for up to 45 days before it could be brought to the new owner’s home.

The buyer must secure and keep all the necessary certificates and documents relating to the purchase just in case some neighbors complain to authorities.

Some of the online shops say the alpacas are from Australia. The animals come in different colors — white, black and light brown.

Many companies, especially mall operators in Beijing and Shanghai, are also now using alpacas to attract customers. Renting an alpaca can cost between 2,000 yuan and 3,000 yuan.

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TL/AC/CG

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