In the recent past days, an aggressive campaign has been launched by PETA (People for the ethical treatment of animals), through social media and newspaper mainly in the United States against the use of alpaca fiber. The basis for this campaign has been a footage taken in an alpaca farm where these animals are being sheared under very cruel conditions. This farm supposedly belongs to one of the main alpaca mills in Peru.
Though we find inadmissible any cruelty applied to animals, we have to state that this is not the general shearing practice among the alpaca breeders.
Andean communities who are the alpaca owners in Southern Peru, take most care of their animals because they are the source of their income and have been their companions for several thousand years. We are witnesses that the shearing has even been improved in the last decades thanks to the introduction of the so called Inca shearing which Is done under a strict protocol to make sure the animal is treated with care, hygiene and less stressful conditions. We can provide films showing this.
We understand PETA follows a vegan philosophy that excludes the use of animal fibers, which we respect but not necessarily follow. There is a wide space in the industry for the use of materials which can be produced under respectful and sustainable conditions for our planet, and this includes animal, vegetal, mineral, and man-made ones.
Alpaca is one of those sustainable materials: this noble animal has lived in the South American continent for more than 2,5 million of years (since migration to our Continent at the beginning of the Pleistocene) and it has been domesticated for 4,500 years as we can see in many cave paintings in Peru. South American camelids have always been there and will always be because they are adapted to a very hostile territory, grazing the icchu, the only grass growing at 4,000 meters of altitude. Shearing the extremely fine alpaca fiber is a must every 2 years and the manufacture of this fiber provides thousands of jobs in our country.
We don´t justify cruelty with any animal on earth, so we think that an investigation needs to be done about what has been shown in the referred PETA footage. But we radically disagree with their position of asking the world not to use alpaca fiber. Peru is blessed in having this beautiful animal in its territory and what we need to do is build a healthy industry around it that can benefit all parts involved: breeders, manufacturers, artisans, entrepreneurs, and clients.
We need to think positive, not negative. These are times to build, not to destroy.
Thanks for taking the time of reading our message.
The Allpa Team and its weavers and knitters