Gentle, inquisitive and attractive, the alpaca has considerable esthetic and financial appeal. These animals are bred for their soft cashmere-like coat and their strong investment potential. The alpaca was established in South America as a domestic breed long before the Inca empire. Large herds of alpaca provided exquisite fiber for the garments of the Incan royalty.
Today, most of the world's alpaca population is still found in South America. However, North American countries and other countries around the world are slowly and surely developing their own national herds. In the last four years, the number of alpacas in North America has risen from two thousand to just under ten thousand. The national breed organization, Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA), has grown almost 500% and many people are learning about--and enjoying the benefits of--raising alpacas.
The alpaca's unique appeal is obvious at first glance. Relatively small, with an average weight between 120 and 180 pounds, large expressive eyes and soft fiber that is pleasing to the touch, these animals elicit an immediate response from their owners. The padded feet of the alpaca are environmentally friendly to pastures. Children are attracted to these delightful, gentle and quiet animals and feel at ease in their presence. Intelligent, responsive, and athletic, the alpaca can be easily trained and transported in the family van. The calmness of the alpaca is contagious and often transmitted to their owners. The alpaca comes in a variety of colors: white, black, reds, browns, rose, silver and a myriad array of shades in between.