Where Does Alpaca Come From?

Alpacas are a domesticated species of South American camelid, believed to be descended from the wild vicuña. They are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of southern Peru, northern Bolivia, Ecuador, and northern Chile at an altitude of 3,500 m (11,500 ft) to 5,000 m (16,000 ft). Alpacas are considerably smaller than llamas and unlike them are not used as beasts of burden but are valued only for their fiber.

Origins of Alpacas

The alpaca was domesticated and bred by the ancient Inca civilization more than 6,000 years ago. The Inca people were the first to recognize the unique qualities of alpaca fiber and began breeding them for their luxurious fleece. Alpacas were considered a sacred animal by the Inca and were highly prized for their soft wool-like coats. The Inca also used alpaca fiber to make clothing and blankets.

Modern Uses for Alpacas

Today, alpacas are still bred primarily for their luxurious fleece which is used to make high-end clothing items such as sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves, and other accessories. Alpaca fiber is also used in home furnishings such as rugs and blankets. In addition to being used for clothing and home furnishings, alpacas are also kept as pets or raised for meat.

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