Alpacas are small (for their species, anyway) camelids that are indigenous to the Andes mountains in South America. The history of their domestication stretches back thousands of years, with the earliest images of the animals found in the artwork of the Moche civilization of what is today northern Peru.
The fleece of the Alpaca is world renown; a hypoallergenic, lustrous, silky fiber with a distinctive sheen. Compared to sheep fleece, Alpaca fleece is not prickly - making it ideal for garments worn directly against the skin.
Alpacas can naturally develop about 22 different colors of fleece, but in South America they have been selectively bred to create a large population of white haired flocks in order to provide a blank canvass for local dyers. As Alpaca exports and breeding in non-native settings have increased, however, appreciation for their other natural shades has increased.
Lastly, as small(er) livestock with simple dietary needs, Alpacas have enjoyed a surge in popularity for their limited environmental footprint and ease of care.