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Scientific Name: Vicugna vicugna
Global Conservation Status: Least Concern (LC)
In Israel: -
At the Zoo: one male in the South American yard
In the Bible: -
Habitat and Distribution: grasslands and prairies at high altitudes (3,600 to 4,800 m) in the Andes Mountains of South America, from Peru in the north to northern Chile and Argentina in the south
Body Structure: Body length – 145-160 cm. Height (at shoulders) – 75-85 cm. Weight – 35-65 kg.
Diet: vegetarian - eats mainly grass
Social Structure: small groups - vicuñas live in groups with an alpha male, females, and their young.
Activity cycle: Diurnal
Threats in the wild: hunting and habitat destruction
photo: Jerusalem Zoo archive
photo: Adi Philipsborn
photo: Tamar Raviv
Vicuñas are the smallest members of the camelidae family. They are the only camel species that need daily access to water, and this is why they are generally found not far from sources of water in their distribution area. Vicuñas and Guanacos are wild animals, while the other two members of the camelidae family, the llama and the alpaca, were domesticated by humans.
Their fur is soft and silky, especially in the chest area, and in South America, only Incan nobles and members of the royal family were permitted to wear clothes made of vicuña fur. In the past, vicuñas were captured in their natural habitats, shorn, and released back into the wild. When the Europeans arrived in South America, vicuñas were hunted almost to extinction, but today, the vicuña population has recovered after being declared a protected species.