Alpaca, a domesticated animal believed to be descended from the vicuna. The alpaca is closely related to the llama and guanaco. It is widely raised for its wool in semiarid regions in western Bolivia and southern Peru, at elevations of up to 15,000 feet (4,600 m). The alpaca feeds mainly on grass and other vegetation.
The alpaca has a long neck, triangular ears, and a narrow head with a pointed snout. There is a deep cleft in the upper lip. The alpaca's cloven hooves help it negotiate steep mountainous terrain. The alpaca is about 40 inches (1 m) high at the shoulder. It is covered with long, fine hair that often reaches a length of 20 inches (50 cm). The hair, which is white to brown or black, is water-repellent and is highly prized for making coats, sweaters, and blankets. Alpacas have been raised for their wool since the Incas first domesticated them more than 2,000 years ago.
The suri is a breed of alpaca that produces a superior grade of wool. Its hair is somewhat curly and is longer, finer, and silkier than that of the common alpaca. The llama and the alpaca are occasionally interbred.Alpaca's wool is water-repellent and highly prized for making coats, sweaters, and blankets.