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The animal on the cover of Learning Perl Objects, References, and Modules is an alpaca (Lama pacos). The alpaca is a member of the South American camelid family, which is closely related to the more familiar Asian and African camels. South American camelids also include the llama, the vicuna, and the guanaco. The alpaca is smaller (36 inches at the withers) than a llama, but larger than its other relations. Ninety-nine percent of the world’s approximately three million alpacas are found in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile.
The evolution of the wild vicuna into the domestic alpaca began between six and seven thousand years ago. The specialized breeding of alpacas for fiber production wasn’t developed until around 500 B.C. The Incas developed the alpaca into the two distinct fleece types, the Huacaya (pronounced wa-kai-ya) and the less common Suri. The main difference between the two types of alpacas is the fiber they produce. The Huacaya fleece has crimp or wave; the Suri fleece is silky and lustrous and has no crimp. Alpacas are prized for their fleece, which is as soft as cashmere and warmer, lighter, and stronger than wool. Alpaca fleece comes in more colors than that of any other fiber-producing animal (approximately 22 basic colors with ...