The alpaca is one of the four species of South American camelides, the others being the llama, the vicuna and the guanaco.
Unlike the vicuña and guanaco that are free-ranging wild animals, the alpaca and llama are domesticated and have lived with men since prehistoric times.
The alpaca comes from Bolivia and even more from Peru, at the highest altitudes of the Andes (4000-4700 m).
The coat of the alpaca can be black, brownish red, mixed or piebald, or even white. The adult females – which have seasonal pregnancies and a gestation of eleven and a half months – during the rainy season they produce 2.5 kg of wool annually while the male animals produce 4.
The farms that raise alpacas are generally operated by native families that care for their own flocks using traditional methods.