The Alpaca of Peru is a domesticated species - there are no known
wild populations in existence. It has been farmed for thousands of years
by the native people of South America, specifically for its thick coat
of luxurious fibre, not unlike wool. Small and stockier than their
cousins, the llama, alpaca were not bred to be beasts of burden. Instead
they are farmed for their coat and, occasionally, their meat. There are
over 52 different natural colours available in their “wool”.
They are vocal creatures, that live in large family groups, lead by
an alpha male. Although their defensive behaviour is called “spitting”
it is more akin to vomitting, as it contains stomach matter. They use a
communual dung pile and, allegedly, can be house trained.
This is the first entirely domesticated species I have unwittingly
illustrated as part of my Animal Alphabet. When I reach the “V”s I will
illustrate their probable ancestor, the Vicuna.