Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Alpaca (Auchenia paco), a ruminant of the Camel family, living on the Andes from the Equator to Tierra del Fuego, but most abundant on the lofty table-lands of Peru and Chili, where they graze in herds throughout the year, and are driven to the huts of the Indians to whom they belong only at shearing time. Some authorities consider the alpaca to be a distinct species, while others regard it as the partially domesticated form of the vicuna (q.v.). In general appearance it is not unlike a large, long-legged, long-necked sheep, with abundant long, soft silky wool, to which the name alpaca is also given, as well as to the textile fabric prepared therefrom. These animals vary greatly in colour, from black to shades of grey approaching dusky white, while many are of a yellowish brown. The manufacture of alpaca stuffs in England dates from 1836, when Mr. (afterwards Sir) Titus Salt commenced to weave it. Saltaire is still the principal seat of the industry. Since that time, however, the fabric has so grown in public favour, that now more than 2.000,000 lbs. are annually imported into Britain. Unsuccessful attempts have been made to acclimatise the alpaca in Europe and North America; and some years ago a herd was imported into Australia with no better result.