From Wilderness to Breeding Farms: The Domestication of the Chinchilla lanigera



In the 1920s, Mathias F. Chapman traveled from Chile to Los Angeles, California, with eleven chinchillas and started the first successful commercial chinchilla breeding farm. This trip represented the beginning of a new era in the fur industry: a transition from hunting to breeding, from trappers to farmers, and from south to north. The farm became a site of knowledge, where people learned about domestication and acclimation. But if domestication saved the chinchilla from extinction, it did not question the fur business. Throughout the US, farmers raised chinchillas to supply a hungry and lucrative fur business.

Author Biography

Ángela Vergara, California State University, USA

Ángela Vergara is a professor of history at California State University, Los Angeles. She obtained her BA in history at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, Chile (1994) and her PhD at the University of California, San Diego (2002). She is the author of Copper Workers, International Business, and Domestic Politics in Cold War Chile (2008) and Fighting Unemployment in Twentieth-Century Chile (2021) and co-editor of Company Towns in the Americas (2011). A social and labor historian, she writes about labor and social movements, occupational health, labor relations, and transnational history.