In July 2024, shearers from an alpaca farm in Peru will go to court to defend themselves from the allegations of animal abuse that came after a report by the animal rights organisation PETA showing the results of an undercover investigation.

The Peruvian national police force charged five shearers at the Mallkini farm with cruelty to domestic animals, after PETA’s investigation revealed alleged cruel practices. According to PETA, workers were seen roughly shearing alpacas with electric clippers, and hitting, kicking, tying down, and mutilating pregnant, crying alpacas in this top alpaca producer.

Restraint is highly distressing to alpacas, who are prey animals. Terrified of being pinned down and defenceless, the investigators recorded them crying out, spitting as a defence mechanism and vomiting in fear as workers grabbed them by the ears and feared that they were about to be killed. 

As is the case with any animal in the wool industry, once they are no longer wanted for their coats, many alpacas are slaughtered for food.

Mallkini is the world’s largest privately owned alpaca farm, near Muñani, Peru. Mallkini is owned by the Michell Group, the world’s largest exporter of alpaca tops and yarn and a supplier of major brands, including Anthropologie.

Daniel Paden, PETA vice president, said, “These landmark charges send a message that the alpaca industry can no longer mutilate screaming, bleeding animals with impunity. PETA looks forward to these shearers being held accountable and urges consumers never to purchase alpaca wool.”

After the investigation, several major retailers banned the use of alpaca wool, particularly from the Mallkini farm. After talks with PETA entities worldwide, ESPRIT, Marks & Spencer, and Smith & Caughey’s will now phase out alpaca, and as a first step, Gap Inc. (which owns Banana Republic, Athleta, and more) and the H&M group (including its eight brands) have cut ties with Michell, which had supplied them with alpaca fur.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.