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Meet Rain Drop...

Rain DropRain Drop is the first Bonny Doon website poster cria. He deserves to be first.

Rain Drop's story of coming into the world speaks of misfortune, luck, mystery and a happy ending.

Rain Drop's name is a reminder of his unique start in life. The traditional way of naming a person amongst many American native tribes is to create a name by describing a natural phenomenon that occurs around the time of the person's birth. Such is the case of Rain Drop. His mother, with tiny Rain Drop inside of her, arrived at Bonny Doon in the middle of the winter. There were scant records though a progesterone test indicated his mother was pregnant. Nobody knew how far into her pregnancy she was until a worker found a limp, half-submerged cria (baby) sprawled in a puddle during a torrential rainstorm. The baby was severely hypothermic and barely breathing. The outdoor temperature hovered around 33 degrees. Both rain and snow were falling when the cria was bundled in a towel and rushed into a warm house, where a thermometer indicated the newborn's temperature was so low it didn't even register -- below 94 degrees.

Why the baby was still alive was a miracle. Nobody knew if he would survive. His body was cold to the touch, his eyes were unresponsive and his breathing was shallow and weak. The baby was dried off vigorously and warmed with a hair dryer while sitting on a heat pad. Care was taken to use just the right amount of heat and at the right pace so the baby's body would warm slowly and evenly. After an hour the temperature reached 97 degrees, the bottom range of normal. In another 40 minutes the baby had reached a temperature of 99. Normal is from 99 to a 102, so a collective sigh of relief was heard throughout the room.

The baby had survived and was named Rain Drop, because he dropped from his mother in the rain. Rain Drop was returned to his mother who had been moved to a dry stall and began nursing in a short while and he appeared on the course of a normal baby -- but it turned out Rain Drop was, well, a little different.

To our horror, the next morning Rain Drop was nearly comatose again. The night had been dry and not too cold. It was odd for a cria that was nursing and able to maintain a normal body temperature to suddenly lose its ability to thermo regulate. It wasn't a good sign and it was feared something was seriously wrong and Rain Drop's survival was not assured.  His temperature was again so low it didn't register.

Again, he was slowly warmed and he regained interest in his surroundings and got up and walked around humming anxiously for his mother. He was returned. For the next two weeks Rain Drop repeated his near death experience some four times, sometimes he recovered very rapidly but on one occasion it took a day of care to get his temperature to normal. All veterinarians consulted about Rain Drop's erratic body temperature were stumped. Usually animals that can't maintain a normal body temperature are able to do so with assistance in a matter of hours and those that can't maintain a temperature often succumb to the elements. Scientists most familiar with alpaca babies hadn't known an alpaca baby that went on for weeks with a plummeting temperature, followed by a normal temperature.  Luckily, the mystery of Rain Drop's inability to thermoregulate ended abruptly in the most desirable way.  Just when Rain Drop's caregivers had functioned with too little sleep for too long, his body cooperated and his temperature stayed normal and is to this day.

Rain Drop turned out to be an exquisite little suri alpaca. He's gaining weight (he's 3 month old in the photo) rapidly and he's so full of life that other babies avoid his mischievous bumps and highly acrobatic jumps and sprints. He's gone from barely surviving to the life of the party -- a wild child who likes to sprint through the herd at full speed and suddenly jump and kick his rear legs high into the air before racing through the herd in a zig zag fashion. Rain Drop celebrates life and his wonderful body every day. When he's been particularly mischievous (like after ramming an adult who spins to scold him) he races back to his mom and stays close to her side until he gets his nerve up again for another adventure in his new world. Rain Drop's spirit and special personality are much appreciated by the people who take care of him. Everyone at Bonny Doon is proud of the fact that diligence and care during his rough start paid off big time with Rain Drop, who has gone from a basket case to the farm's most playful alpaca. Luckily most baby alpacas don't require the diligence to duty that Rain Drop did but the satisfaction of saving him was very rewarding. Rain Drop is developing into a first rate suri alpaca that has all the best qualities of his breed. Why he had such an odd beginning will never be fully understood, but the mystery is entirely acceptable when the ending is a good one.

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Santa Cruz, California
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