Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Alpaca

Vicugna pacos

The alpaca is a domestic species that cannot be found in the wild. Alpacas originate from the Andes Mountains in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile. They eat grass and hay and can live up to 20 years old. Alpacas are prized for their thick fleece, which can grow up to 10 inches a year.

Range & Habitat

In the Wild: There are no known wild alpacas. The alpaca is a domesticated farm animal grown for its  fleece. They originally came from the Andes Mountains of South America, specifically Peru, northern  Bolivia, Ecuador, and northern Chile. 

Exhibit Location: Domestic Animal Barn

Conservation Status: Not Evaluated

Domesticated

Diet

At the Zoo: grain, hay and produce 

Enrichments at the Zoo: maple branches, vines, toys social interactions with other species

Life Span

In Human Care: 20 years

Fun Facts about the Alpaca

  • Alpacas are related to camels, llamas, guanacos, and vicuna. 
  • Alpacas were domesticated for their fiber 1000 years before the Egyptians built the pyramids. 
  • Their coats may grow up to 10 inches a year. They are sheared every 12-18 months. 
  • Alpacas and llamas held a special place in ancient Andean societies. The alpaca, in particular, was seen as a gift from the Inca goddess Pachamama. Indigenous Andean peoples made clothing from alpaca fiber, fiber from the dung, meals  from the meat and leather from the hides. Further, textiles were a central part of their social system. As a result, alpacas assumed religious significance and their forms appear in  amulets and other religious objects.

Sources

Alpaca Owners & Breeders Association, Inc. (2006-2012). Alpacainfo. Retrieved from http://www.alpacainfo.com/MediaCenter/generalinfo.asp 

Davis, L. K. (1995-2009). Alpaca.com: The world's premier alpacasource and marketplace. Retrieved from http://www.alpacanet.com/thealpaca.cfm 

 

Updated January 18, 2021
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