Today is my 39th birthday. Normally, on a Friday afternoon, I share on my website a cute picture (or video!) of a totally adorable alpaca. Why? Because they’re cute, and they make everyone’s lives better. For example:
So, due to popular demand, I’m pleased to share my policy on alpacas.
Test, Test, Test!
Just like humans, alpacas are at risk of carrying unwanted diseases. While their immune system are likely to be very strong at combating coronavirus, it is also possible (but very unlikely!) for alpacas to carry Bovine Tuberculosis.
While such infections are incredibly rare, it is still important to test for possible disease. This is because the cost of testing is relatively trivial, and the benefit of detecting the disease is huge: We need to keep our island safe. Keeping our island safe has obvious health benefits to cows at risk of contracting tuberculosis, but further, it has massive economic benefits to the many people who’s lives depend on our island being a safe bubble from disease.
I’ve been a very strong, long-term advocate to increase medical testing on our borders to protect our island from unwanted diseases.
Alpacas have been used as an additional, ancillary, treatment for mental health. Obviously, they aren’t a silver bullet – they’re a relatively trivial side show.
Mental health is causing huge harm on the Isle of Man. I’ve heard directly from affected people, who have felt great despair at the excessive waiting lists for appropriate treatment. One woman told me how she has been waiting for almost two years for appropriate treatment. Early treatment is essential, and we need to reduce the waiting lists so that we can protect our friends and neighbours before things get worse in their lives.
In my personal life, a woman very close to me has suffered from significant mental illness. As a young man, I remember how awful it was to need to drive to psychiatric institutions to take her out of lockup to her home. The scars of mental illness don’t just harm the individuals, but rather, they break down the social capital of our families and our communities. I know. I have seen it happen. I have experienced it.
Despite my experience of literally being on the front line of the war against mental illness, it is still something that is hard for me to speak about. Even though we felt and experienced the challenges so personally, it is still hard to discuss these issues. Mental health is such an important issue, and we need to talk about these challenges more openly as a community. People should not be ashamed of discussing their mental illnesses openly, just as people are not ashamed to discuss a leg injury or a breathing problem. Alpacas can be a catalyst for such change – but the biggest such change must come from humans.
Building New Jobs
Alpaca trekking can be a fun and accessible tourist attraction: especially for children who might not feel safe or secure around larger or stronger animals. Alpacas don’t bite, but rather, are delightfully friendly, cuddly and adorable.