(Lama guanicoe)




Facts about this animal

Guanacos are large ungulates with a total head-body length of 180-190 cm, a shoulder height of 100-120 cm, and a body-weight of up to 140 kg. They have long pointed ears, deeply cleft, highly mobile lips, a slender neck and long legs with broad hooves and callosities on the inner sides of the fore limbs.


The coat is woolly and longest on the flanks, chest and thighs. The colour is dark fawn-brown above, the head is dark greyish, and the under parts are white.


Guanacos are diurnal and territoria. They are found in family bands of up to 25 individuals, consisting of on male and several females with their offspring, bachelor groups or solitary males. 


After a gestation period of 11 months one single  foal is born, which is weaned at an age of 3-4 months and will reach sexual maturity at about 18 (females) to 24 (males) months.


Guanacos are predominatly grazers, their diet consisting e.g. at Tierra del Fuego of 90 % Festuca and Poa grass species, but they browse also shrubs to some extent (18 % in Mendoza).

Did you know?
that guanacos, like all camelids have a complex, 3-compartmented stomach? Although they are not considered ruminants, they do regurgitate and rechew ingested forage. In fact, they are more efficient at feed conversion than are ruminants in extracting protein and energy from poor quality forages.


Name (Scientific) Lama guanicoe
Name (English) Guanaco
Name (French) Guanaco
Name (German) Guanako
Name (Spanish) Guanaco
Local names Mapuche: Luan
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Tomas Kotouc



Range Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru
Habitat Grassland and shrubland, open woodland (Nothofagus) from sea level to above 4000 m a.s.
Wild population Between 535,750-589,750. The vast majority in Argentina (IUCN Red List 2011)
Zoo population 479 reported to ISIS (2008)

In the Zoo



How this animal should be transported

Guanacos have good eyesight and, like sheep, can negotiate steep slopes, though ramps should be as shallow as possible. They load most easily in a bunch as a single animal will strive to rejoin the others. Whilst they are usually docile, they have an unnerving habit of spitting in self-defence. During transport they usually lie down. They frequently extend their front legs forward when lying, so gaps below partitions should be high enough so that their legs are not trapped when the animals rise.

For air transport, Container Note 73 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Tomas Kotouc

Why do zoos keep this animal

Zoos keep the guanaco for educational reasons because it is the ancestor of the domestic llama and alpaca. It is also an excellent ambassador species for the conservation of the South American grasslands. Ideally guanacos are kept in mixed species pampas exhibits.