Neonatology of South American Camelids
The genus Lama includes four species of South American Camelids (SACs). Llamas and alpacas are domesticated while guanacos and vicunas are free ranging species in South America. All four species may interbreed and produce fertile offspring. There are an estimated 30,000-35,000 llamas and alpacas in the United States and Canada presently and they are the focal point of a multi-million dollar industry. With the growing numbers of SACs in the United States, there is a high probability that the veterinarian will have some exposure to them. Many SAC breeders are new to animal husbandry and have little herd management experience. Thus, the veterinarian will be called upon not only to provide medical care to SACs, but also to advise and instruct. The baby SAC neonate is called a "cria," a Spanish word used to describe the young 'from birth to weaning. Due to the high economic value placed on SACs, the survival of each cria will be of utmost importance. Therefore, the veterinarian should be familiar with the care and management of the pregnant dam and the neonate and be ready for any medical emergencies that occur perinatally.