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Two alpacas on the loose in Oakland. What could go wrong?

A white and a brown alpaca on a grassy property
Alpacas Boogie and Woogie tested their owner’s love when they escaped from their Oakland property.
(Tobias Riday)

How do you ask someone if they have seen two loose alpacas?

You can try to keep a straight face, but it turns out it’s a tough question to pose to a stranger, Oakland real estate agent Tobias Riday found. His two Huacaya alpacas, father-son duo Boogie and Woogie, escaped from his property Saturday and proceeded to explore the neighborhood, said Riday, who lives on a small urban farm with his family.

Riday and his family went for a hike the day before and accidentally left a gate unlocked. It’s unclear whether Boogie or Woogie initiated the escape, but soon enough the alpacas were free.

At first, their trek was innocent enough.

“They were cruising the park and then they just jetted into the city streets,” Riday said. “That’s when the chaos ensued. Because they’re really comfortable in our yard and in the park, but they’re not familiar with the streets.”

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The alpacas headed toward Interstate 580, but fortunately they did not get on the freeway. Instead, they went under an overpass, said Riday, who pieced together their adventure after the fact. The story was first reported by SFGate.

During the hour or so that Boogie and Woogie were gone, Riday, 41, raced around his neighborhood with his two alpaca leashes, approaching people he had never seen before on his many walks around the area and asking them a question no stranger would expect: Have you seen two loose alpacas?

“People were like, ‘Uh … no?’” Riday said. “Some guy at a liquor store said, ‘Hey, man, I’m out here on these streets. If I see your alpacas, I’ll call you.’”

Riday handed out his business cards so people could reach him if they came across Boogie and Woogie. Eventually, his quest to find his lost alpacas turned up on the community app Nextdoor.

Boogie and Woogie ambled over to a driveway where the homeowner corralled the docile creatures with some rope and called animal control, Riday said.

Animal control got hold of Riday, who loaded the alpacas onto his truck and took them home. The whole experience made Riday grateful to a community that came together to find Boogie and Woogie, whom he had adopted from retired high school math teacher Jim Montgomery.

He too learned about the great escape.

“My niece and her girlfriend messaged me on Instagram and asked, ‘Do you know these alpacas?’” Montgomery said. “Uh, yeah, I know them.”

Montgomery previously ran a farm in west Berkeley, but he had a heart attack a little over a year ago and decided he needed to find homes for his livestock. That included a dozen alpacas, two llamas, 30 rabbits and 30 chickens, along with a herd of goats and other animals.

“Alpacas are the drag queens of the livestock community. They have a lot of attitude, they don’t like just anyone to touch them, they have long eyelashes,” Montgomery said. “They’re beautiful animals.”

Riday says his alpacas do a great job of eating all the vegetation around his property, which in turn creates a defense buffer against wildfires. They have plenty of space to roam around, and there’s a pet duck, Buddy, who keeps them company.

It’s unclear why they left or if Boogie’s recent escapade hurt his image, but Riday is hopeful that it helps get the single alpaca father a date.

“He’s kind of getting lonely with just his son,” Riday said. “He’s ready to breed. Maybe that’s why they escaped.”


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