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The Secret Life of Alpacas, in Photos

According to Andean mythology, alpacas are gifts from the gods and goddesses. They arrived in our world under one condition: we must always treat them well and tend to their needs. Many centuries later, the photographer Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek pays homage to these age-old animals with Better Living with Alpacas, a new calendar in which he imagines the secret life of a few mischievous fellows.

Owners of the calendar will meet an alpaca every day—each with their own individual personalities, and each luxuriating in a fancy household interior. The idea reads like the plot of a fairytale: “They are very much into great architecture and sneak into these places as often as they can,” Gebhart de Koekkoek tells me. “As soon as nobody is at home, they find their way into these places and chill all day in these fine rooms.”

The photographer prefers to give few details on the locations of the shoot and the everyday lives of his endearing subjects, so talking to him, it’s difficult to tell what’s real and what isn’t. If only for a while, Gebhart de Koekkoek invites us to suspend our disbelief. “Alpacas don’t really care who lives there,” the photographer insists. “They find their way inside if they really like your house.” And what if these animals did in fact slink into our houses the moment we left for work each morning? Perhaps life would be better for us all.

Gebhart de Koekkoek’s photographs might belong to the world of fantasy, but there’s no denying he’s tapped into something timeless and true about our relationship with alpacas. And looking through the calendar, I can’t help but think of that Andean folktale. Whether or not they were given to us by the heavens or born on earth, these gentle creatures are worthy of our protection, respect, and care. “Their personalities are outstanding,” the artist admits. “Pure energy and joy. I bonded with all of them.”

Find Better Living with Alpacas here.

All images © Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek

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