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Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 21:20 EDT

Guanaco

The Guanaco (Lama guanicoe), is a camelid animal native to South America. They are found in the higher plateaus of Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina. They are more numerous in the Patagonian regions of Chile and Argentina’s National Parks. Some places are overpopulated by guanacos, and overall they are most numerous in Peru. When Europeans first arrived in South America, there were an estimated 500,000,000 guanacos, but current estimates place their numbers at about 500,000.

An average guanaco stands 42 inches at the shoulder and weighs about 200 pounds. Like the llama, the guanaco is double coated with a coarse guard hair and soft undercoat, which is almost as fine as that of the alpaca, although they carry far less of it. The guanaco’s soft wool is second only to that of the vicuña, a close relative. The color varies little, ranging from a light brown to dark cinnamon and shading to white underneath. Guanacos have grey faces and small straight ears.

They are extremely striking with their large, alert brown eyes, streamlined form, and energetic pace. Similarly to llamas, alpacas and vicuñas, guanacos have thicker skin in their necks. Used for fighting in competition for mates, they have thickened to be more protective. Guanacos can run with a speed of up to 35 miles per hour. The running is important for their survival, because in the open places where they live there is no place to hide.

Guanaco