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Another alpaca found dead on farm just south of Syracuse

Just one day after our story aired about the mysterious deaths of several alpaca on a farm just south of Syracuse, another has died.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Just one day after our story aired about the mysterious deaths of several alpaca on a farm just south of Syracuse, another has died.

“Copper Kiss” fell to the ground and appeared to suffer a seizure while NewsChannel 9 was at the property on Thursday.

Owner Sheila Zych says she found the animal, valued at $8,000, dead Friday morning.

Preliminary blood tests on the more than three dozen other alpaca who’ve died show that the chemical phenol may have played a role in their deaths.

Investigators are awaiting final toxicology reports from Cornell University to determine an exact cause of death.

In the meantime, Zych is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.

If you have any information that could help in this case, call the SPCA cruelty investigation tip line at 454-3469.

$5,000 reward offered in dead alpaca case
May 10, 2012

Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- A reward is being offered for information that will reveal whom is responsible for the deaths of nearly three dozen alpaca.

The owner of the Onondaga County alpaca farm believes her animals are being poisoned. The deaths have sparked an investigation by the Central New York SPCA.

The SPCA is waiting on the final toxicology reports from Cornell University to see what exactly killed the alpaca. Preliminary blood tests show the chemical phenol may be involved. It’s a common chemical, but in large quantities it can be deadly.

While a NewsChannel 9 crew was out at the farm on Thursday, another alpaca had fallen to the ground, suffering from a seizure.

“Unfortunately, it looks like I have another animal that’s probably not going to make it,” Tanner Farm owner, Shelia Zych said. “She’ll probably be gone within 24 hours.”

Zych has been raising alpacas since 2008 and just this past year, more than 30 of them have died.

Zych says she treats the baby alpaca like household pets and even bottle feeds them. So she spares no expense in monitoring her animals.

“Surveillance is not a 100 percent protection…it’s always an after-the-fact thing and so, I still have concerns about how to best protect the animals,” Zych told NewsChannel 9.

Even with 14 live feeds of surveillance playing in her living room 24/7, Zych says she hasn’t captured any video of anyone trespassing or harming her animals.

Just one alpaca is worth an average of $10,000 to $15,000 and most of them are insured.

Zych is the Onondaga School Board president and believes someone is sending her a political message before campaign season by injecting her animals with phenol.

“I don’t have any of those chemicals around here. The feed comes from a regular source that everyone else uses and the water is the same water I drink,” Zych continued.

Alpaca are supposed to live up to 20 years. Zych says there's no explanation for the early deaths - other than poison.

Zych is offering a $5,000 reward for anyone with information leading to an arrest. If you have any information that could help in this case, call the SPCA cruelty investigation tip line at 454-3469.

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