Hello, everyone. This is Ian Wilson. My dear mother is having a rough weekend, so I’m taking over for her once again. So last time I wrote, I wrote about unusual hybrid animals that are used for making yarn fiber. Well, turns out I missed one. It’s known as a Paco-vicuña.
The Paco-vicuña is a cross breed between the alpaca and an animal known as a vicuña. The alpaca is essentially the domestic cousin of the vicuña. It’s the same as if you crossbred a labrador with a wolf. The vicuña was domesticated by indigenous Americans in the highlands of South America about 6000 years ago. What a lot of people don’t realize is that until Columbus landed in 1492, there were no horses, cows, sheep, pigs or goats on the American Continent. Actually, that’s not true; there were a few horses, but they went extinct millennia before Columbus. So having none of these animals to work with, the indigenous peoples had to make do with what they had. So in a moment of ingenuity, they domesticated the vicuña and it’s larger relative, the guanaco. The vicuña eventually evolved into what we now know as the alpaca and the guanaco became the llama.
“But wait!” you cry. “What’s the difference between a llama and alpaca?” Excellent question. Llamas are significantly larger and more aggressive than alpacas. They’re as tall as some horses. The Indigenous peoples of the Andean Highlands use llamas for their warm fibers, as beasts of burden, and for their meat. Alpacas are quite a bit smaller, and have a much more even temperament. Because of their size, they’re really only used for fleece. Basically the same differences exist between the vicuña and guanaco.
So back to the paco-vicuña. Why would one desire to cross an alpaca with a vicuña? Well, vicuñas are well adapted to a multitude of different terrains and environments; even more so than the alpaca, which I am told are some of the easiest livestock to keep. Their fleece is probably the main draw. It’s softness and weather-proof qualities are superior to even the alpaca. However, they are wild animals, and getting them to cooperate would be challenging to say the least. Additionally, the vicuña is a threatened species in the wild, and becoming increasingly rare. So breeders had the idea to crossbreed the alpaca and the vicuña to circumvent these issues. The paco-vicuña has the even temperament of the alpaca and the fleece of the vicuña. All in all, a pretty handy critter to have around the farm. And don’t even get me started on the fertilizer....
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**Opinions expressed on blogs about which I write are the opinion of the blog authors and DO NOT necessarily reflect my own opinion.