On August 29, 1846, Peruvian president Ramón Castilla issued a decree honoring Juan Pablo Cabrera, an interim priest from the Macusani district of Puno. The decree recognized the priest's long-standing endeavor to cross the wild vicuña with the domesticated alpaca. The exquisite quality of the fiber and the tractable nature of this new hybrid animal gave rise to the hope that it might become a valuable resource, and therefore Peru was indebted to the priest and his service on behalf of the young republic. This essay examines Cabrera's venture, the creation of the paco-vicuña, and its emergence onto the national and international scene in the 1840s. Cabrera's paco-vicuña endeavor highlights the importance of local ventures, knowledge, and expertise, and shows how these were deeply entangled in contemporary intellectual and political projects, especially those concerning mestizaje and nation formation, as well as international scientific and economic interests of the time.

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