Chinchillas are native to the Andes Mountains in Chile. They were slowly becoming extinct because of the value of their fur. Originally 11 chinchillas were brought into the United States in 1923 by Mathias Chapman. He established a breeding colony in California. All chinchillas in the U.S. trace their roots back to this original colony.
During the 1950's, breeding chinchillas for fun and profit was a very trendy way to create a second income. By the 1960's there were thousands of chinchilla ranches across the country. The problem with raising chinchillas for fur was that the animals were so cute many would-be entrepreneurs couldn't bring themselves to "harvest" them. Most people today care for their chinchillas as pets.
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