Alpaca

Alpaca

Vicugna pacos

Quick Facts

Alpaca

Found:    South America
Size:       2 to 3 feet
Weight:  100 to 180 lbs
Diet:     hay, grasses, plants
Life Span:  15 to 20 years
Status:  Common

Alpacas are South American camelids that look like small llamas. They have camel-like faces with thick lips, pronounced noses, and long ears. There are two types of alpaca – the huacaya (pronounced wah–kay–ya), and the suri (pronounced sir-ee).  The main difference between the two is in the appearance of their fiber.  The suri has fine fiber that is quite straight and appears to hang in dreadlocks from their body. The huacaya has very crimpy fiber, which gives them a wooly and round appearance.  Both types come in a wide variety of natural colors.  The first known records of alpacas are in drawings on cave walls in the Andean Mountains.  In the times of the Andean Indians and the Incas, alpacas were considered to be legal tender because of their valuable fleece. Today, they are still used for pack animals and their fiber.  The heaviest concentration of alpacas today is in the Altiplano – the high altitude regions of southern Peru, Bolivia and Chile.  Alpacas were first imported into the USA in 1984

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