Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

County Welcomes Newest Addition to Children’s Zoo

February 29, 2012
Ronda Schwetz, Interim Henry Vilas Zoo Director, 608.444.8811, or Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive 608.267.8823 or cell, 608.843.8858
County Executive

The population of the Henry Vilas Zoo keeps growing, with zoo staff celebrating the birth of their newest resident, a male alpaca named Phantom of Birchwood, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today.  Both Phantom and mom Darbella are doing well and living comfortably in the new Children’s Zoo barn.


“Even in the winter there is always something to see at the Henry Vilas Zoo,” said Parisi.  “Phantom is a great addition to our zoo family and we can’t wait for residents and visitors to meet him.”


Video of Phantom’s first day in the snow can be seen here:


Alpacas originally come from South America and played a central role in ancient Incan culture.  The animals are adapted to snowy, mountainous regions –  perfect for Wisconsin winters. 


Alpacas are traditionally kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of southern Peru, northern Bolivia, Ecuador, and northern Chile.  They are the smallest of the camelid species, which includes their cousins llamas, guanacos, and vicunas. 


Interim Zoo Director Ronda Schwetz added that Wisconsin’s climate is perfect for alpacas.  “Alpacas do very well in wintery weather.  Phantom, his mom Darbella, and our two other curious alpacas are great to visit now, and even more fun to watch when the snow finally falls.”


Henry Vilas Zoo’s adult alpaca’s were generously donated last year by Jeff Gunderson of Stoughton.  Visitors can see the newest zoo resident at the new Children’s Zoo Barn, a high-tech, “green” structure with other animals and innovations for everyone to learn about and enjoy.


Zoo admission, as always, is free to the public.  For a full listing of zoo fun, photos, and videos citizens are encouraged to visit www.vilaszoo.orgor check in with the zoo on Facebook at

# # #

Back to Press Releases