National Zoo & Aquarium

Hello! I’m an Alpaca

Alpacas are members of the Camelid family, meaning they are related to camels and llamas. Alpacas are smaller than llamas and are distinguished by smaller ears and a ‘blunt’ face. They are generally domesticated for their fleece. and are found in southern parts of Peru and western Bolivia. Female alpaca give birth to just one baby a year, called a cria. The Cria weigh just 9kg and will walk soon after birth. Alpacas spit at each other to signal displeasure. Their spit is not actual ‘spit’, it is the last thing they ate

Communal dung piles help alpacas control their internal parasite. Generally, males are tidier with fewer dung piles than females who tend to stand in a line and all go at once. One female will approach the dung pile and begin to urinate and/or defecate, and the rest of the herd will often follow. Because of their preference for using a dung pile, some alpacas have been successfully house-trained.

Alpacas were domesticated around 6 000 years ago by the ancient Incans’. They were seen as a gift from Pachamama, a goddess of the earth and fertility. Alpacas assumed a religious significance with their form appearing in many religious objects. With the Spanish conquest of South American up to 90% of alpaca herds were wiped out in an effort to control the local populations. In the mid 19th century, Alpacas gained popularity in Europe and since have become a viable industry in many countries across the globe. There are no known wild alpacas, and its closest living relative, the vicuña.

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Alpaca facts

Conservation Status Lower Risk
Distribution Western South America
Weight 48–84kg
Height 81–99cm
Life Span 15–20 years in captivity
Gestation 242–345 days

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Scrivener Dam, Yarralumla, Canberra, ACT 2611

Open every day from 9:30am to 5:00pm

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