The alpaca is a member of the camelid family, which includes the llama, the wild vicuna and the camel. The alpaca dates back between 5 to 20 thousand years and is known from archaeological records to have been domesticated for 6,000 years. Among the people of the Andes, the woven fabric from the fleece of the alpaca was so soft and alluring that it was used as currency. There are two breed types of alpaca, the Huacaya and the Suri. Both types are similar in conformation, but have different fiber types.
Huacaya alpacas are the more common and account for about 90% of all alpacas. They have fluffy, crimpy fleece that gives the animals a teddy bear-like appearance.
The Suri alpaca has unique fiber characteristics that distinguish it from the Huacaya. Unlike the soft fuzzy look of the Huacaya alpaca, the Suri’s long, separate, distinctive locks are comprised of twisted or flat fibers that drape down the sides of the Suri’s body. The Suri’s fiber has a cool, slick feel, and has the luster of silk.