Two alpaca breeders have launched a themed dating alternative to online apps such as Tinder so that shy couples can break the ice during nature walks with the animals.
The new dating method was created by breeders Philipp Wohlgemuth and Monika Sereinig from Techelsberg, a town in the Austrian state of Carinthia.
Philipp and Monika regularly take their 30 woolly alpacas, South American camelids, on hikes through the picturesque Austrian landscape, and came up with the idea to include singletons who want to meet members of the opposite sex on the walks.
Pictures Credit: CEN/Wohlgemuth-Sereinig
Monika said the alpacas, which are closely related to llamas but smaller in size, are like an extended family and have much in common with people.
She said: “They all have their own face and character. They are rather timid and anxious and it takes time to build up trust.”
The breeders invite five single men and women to tag along on the alpaca walks as a way of meeting other people.
The potential love interests are placed into pairs and given their own alpaca to take care of during the hike.
Clients are given a set of instructions, such as don’t pat the alpacas on the head as they do not like it, and are then sent out on the walks.
Participant Florian Maurer said: “I thought that it would be cool to try, just because of the alpacas. Dating usually follows the same pattern, but this gives it a unique angle.”
He called dating apps such as Tinder “asymmetrical” because “people always behave differently” over the internet than in real life.
Daniela Deutsch said she was looking forward to meeting like-minded people who like nature and animals.
She said: “I think it’s interesting and I’m curious to see how it works out.”
Breeder Philipp helps to break the ice during hikes by asking would-be couples to pose for funny snaps with the alpacas.
Philipp said: “It’s different than just going out for a coffee, with us you walk in nature with the animals. They have to be calm and natural too otherwise the alpacas won’t play along.”
Participant Bettina Paulitsch agreed: “It is not as tense as sitting in a cafe opposite each other. It’s just a laid-back, natural atmosphere and it was actually great fun.”
Philipp and Monika told Central European News (CEN) that the alpaca dating initiative has been a great success so far, adding that the “demand is huge” and they continue to receive “daily registrations for single dating hikes”.
They said that many participants have already exchanged contact details after enjoying a hike with each other.
Philipp told CEN: “If a relationship blossoms, I have already told everyone that I will come to their wedding with two alpacas.”