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History of Alpacas

The Alpaca is a member of the South American camelid family, which includes the

Llama, the Vicuna and the Guanaco. Among its more distant relatives are the

African Dromedary camel and the Asian Bactrian camel. It is believed that the

ancestors of the Alpacas migrated from the North American Southwest to the

Andean region more than 50 million years ago. While they became extinct in the

north, in the south the Alpaca’s wild ancestors were domesticated by the Indian

populations of the region and evolved – approximately 7,000 years ago – into

what we know today as Alpacas and Llamas. The Vicuna and Guanaco are considered

to be of the same biological species as the Alpaca and Llama. DNA tests

performed by experts indicate that the Alpaca is the result of selective

breeding of Vicuna stock and that the Llama is a direct descendant of the

Guanaco.

Updated December 31, 2016