Apropos to the attempt to naturalize the camel in the United States, efforts have just commenced to acclimatize the lama—a native of South America—the animal from which the famous alpaca wool is obtained. Forty-two of these animals recently arrived in this city, being imported from Escuador by way of Aspinwall. They are designed, we understand, for the Eastern States, in the hope that they may become inured to the climate, and take the place of sheep, in some cases, on account of their wool, which is very valuable. In their native regions they are shorn twice every year, and yield, at each shearing, about sixteen pounds—four times the quantity obtained from the common sheep, which are shorn only once annually. They are pretty large animals, weighing from 200 to 300 Ib8., and are used as beasts of burden in South America—they are the American camel. They live on coarse herbage in the region of the Andes mountains; and it is believed they will prosper in the hilly portions of Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. If not, we think they can be acclimatized in the mountainous regions of Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. We really hope that this laudable effort to introduce the lama into our country will prove successful, as its flesh is said to be equal to the best venison, while its wool is now extensively employed in manufacturing very beautiful fabrics. We also hope that if one effort ails, others will be made, as it is rensonable to suppose that, with our great variety of climate and soil, this useful animal can be acclimated in some part of our country.
This article was originally published with the title "The Lamas" in Scientific American 13, 20, 155 (January 1858)