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It was once thought that, like llamas, alpacas were descended from wild guanacos. However, recent thinking is that they may have been domesticated from a different relative – the vicuna.   Alpacas are herd animals and mainly bred for their thick coats, which, like wool, can be woven into a wide variety of clothing and textiles.

Alpacas are usually sheared once a year in the spring and one animal can produce 5 to 10 pounds of fiber. Being from the highest parts of the Andes, the Alpaca is a hardy animal and can endure extreme conditions. Its thick fleece is designed to keep it warm and snug in the harshest weather.


Conservation status | Least concern

Fact Sheet

Scientific name

Vicugna paco






15-20 years

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