Five alpacas died from an errant playtime meal

The Sacramento Bee        
By: Cathie Anderson 
Photo: Courtesy of Antibodies Inc.  
Photo Caption: This photo dates from a time when Davis-based Antibodies Inc. had a herd of nine alpacas. Five of them died in mid-July after ingesting poisonous oleander.
Original content from The Sacramento Bee.  

Five alpacas at a Davis-based research company died in July after playing in a pasture.

The cause? A brush pile contained clippings of oleander, the decorative shrub or tree that adorns freeway medians and backyards all around California.

Now an animal welfare group is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to levy a $50,000 fine against Antibodies Inc. – $10,000 for each alpaca.

In a required report to the National Institutes of Health, Davis-based Antibodies Inc. stated that a maintenance employee put oleander in a brush pile in a pasture where its laboratory animals regularly were let out for playtime.

The pile was not within the line of sight of the staff who put eight of the company’s alpacas in the pasture. It was found only after an investigating officer came to the facility to look for the source.

Finding no oleander along the fence, he inspected the brush pile and found oleander clippings. The investigator then watched as the employee brought a load of brush in his personal vehicle to add to the pile, the report stated.

Read the rest of this story and view the photos at The Sacramento Bee.