Alpacas are relatively new to the United States, being introduced in 1984! The price for American alpacas ranged from US $50 for a castrated male to US $675,000 for the highest in the world, price is depending on breeding history, sex, and color. They are marketed as “the investment you can hug”. Prior to colonization, the image of the alpaca was used in rituals and in their religious practices. Since the people in the region of Peru depended heavily on these animals for their sustenance, the alpaca was seen as a gift from Pachamama. Alpacas were used for their meat, fibers for clothing, and art.
There are no wild alpacas. Alpacas are domesticated versions of vicuñas, South American ruminants that live high in the Andes. Alpacas are related to llamas, which are domesticated versions of another wild Andean ruminant, the guanaco. While llamas are used as pack animals, alpacas are raised mainly for their soft fiber.
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