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Vicugna vicugna


Vicuñas are the smallest members of the camel family.

They were held in high regard by the ancient Inca population but, after south America was conquered by Spain, uncontrolled hunting for wool and meat almost destroyed the species. Strict protection laws have helped the animals to recover but they are still dependent on conservation measures, such as zoo breeding programs.

Belfast Zoo has successfully bred this endangered species for many years, in their mountain top enclosure with stunning views across Belfast Lough.

Animal class


Diet - Herbivore
Vicuñas graze on short grass.

Vicuñas can be up to 1.9 metres long. Their tails can measure up to 30 centimetres and they weigh up to 65 kilograms.

Vicuñas are found in grasslands in the Andes, in countries such as Peru, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia.

Conflict with humans is the main threat to vicuñas. Their habitats are being destroyed, they are persecuted as pests and they are prone to catching diseases.

Current population
The vicuña population declined drastically in the 1960’s. However, due to conservation measures there are now 350,000 vicuñas living in the wild. Their numbers are increasing steadily.

Zoo population
There is an EEP for vicuñas. There are 270 vicuñas living in zoos across the world.