management and resources
Fiber from llamas
Our llama family
Just for fun
- If you don't rescue ...
- DON'T BREED!
Snowy is one of our most recent rehab llamas.
Right after her birth, she was taken from her mother to be bottle-fed
-- supposedly to make her more handleable. Snowy obviously received
no llama socialization during her formative period, and also
was apparently not handled much except for feeding. She has obvious
difficulties "conversing" in normal llama language,
and she sees humans as only abusive and dangerous. She has a
high aversion to being touched. And she spits. Voluminously.
So much for "more handleable."
Snowy was of course sold as a breeding female
-- back then, anything that could have a baby llama was automatically
breeding stock, even the vastly less-popular generic white, short-wooled
females. Snowy's habits were obviously not well-received, and
she was auctioned off (without disclosure, natch) for a pretty
penny. As the price of llamas declined, however, so did the incentive
to put up with Snowy and her less-than-high-demand babies (she's
white and not woolly, remember?). Snowy was sold again -- at
a rather low price and, this time, with full disclosure -- to
a packer who had been thinking of breeding pack llamas.
Snowy's behavior again proved to be trying.
And discouraging. After an aborted pregnancy in the heat and
a subsequent infection, llama breeding didn't seem so desirable.
Being an ethical fellow, the owner realized no one was likely
to want her, asked around the area, and finally contacted us,
offering to give us Snowy, free of charge.
Snowy had a particular dislike of women, and
Gwen ended up wearing Snowy's stomach contents home. However,
Gwen's continued attempts to communicate brought about a fairly
quick cessation of defensive spewing -- and, happily, Snowy feels
safe enough to ignore visitors. We uncovered and treated an ear
infection, and also cleaned up Snowy's neglected coat. Trust
is not built overnight, and Snowy had a lot of distrust to put
After a year of slow and steady rehab work,
Snowy now completely accepts our approach to within a foot of
her body and within two feet of her head. Continuation beyond
this point may result in readying cud or the occasional quick
spew in the air (away from us), depending on whether she perceived
our approach as predictable or more threateningly sudden. The
relative rapidity with which Snowy ceased voluminous spitting
indicates that she is not a "natural" (genetically
predispositioned) spitter, but that the habit is instead a product
of her upbringing.
One day Snowy demonstrated that she can now
consider another llama important to her. Her choice to defend
Daphne from another llama was a major breakthrough for a llama
who stayed apart from the herd and rejected all overtures of
friendship. Snowy has also gradually come to eat with the herd
rather than waiting sullenly on the fringes for everyone to leave.
Snowy's most recent achievement has been "grain
training." Make no mistake, Snowy certainly understood the
positive virtues of grain. For some time after she arrived, Snowy
ran toward anything resembling a grain container, spewing at
everything and everybody in the vicinity. If you own llamas,
you know just how inconvenient THAT behavior is -- all the other
llamas couldn't possibly eat until their feeders had been double-scrubbed
and their "contaminated" grain had been discarded and
replaced! Our task was to convince Snowy that in order to partake,
she must also not charge, push, or (especially) spit. Snowy was
a quick study, and although she is still having a rare relapse
when the feeding situation involves too many changes or strangers,
she usually manages to "be a good llama" so she can
have that grain.
Snowy and Jim deep in conversation
Snowy still needs more rehabilitation, and
some social issues may never be fully resolved because of her
age and her species' steeltrap memory. However, Snowy has managed
to worm her way into our affections, and she will remain here
for the rest of her life. We will continue to work hard to minimize
her discomfort when handled so that we can provide her with the
best of care and pampering when old age and arthritis inevitably
Snowy died peacefully and unexpectedly in
her sleep on October 12, 2003. Necropsy revealed previous heart
damage coupled with fluid accumulation in the lungs. With all
the trauma in Snowy's life, we were extremely grateful that she
did not suffer from any condition that would have required treatment
by us -- even after all the years of work and improvement, it
would have been extremely stressful and unwelcome to Snowy. However,
her abrupt passing left us shocked. Snowy was definitely presented
management difficulties -- her quirks and viewpoints always had
to be considered before anything could be done within her herd
-- but just the same, we miss her. Was she better off for our
efforts? Absolutely. Was she happy? Sometimes she definitely
was. Was her life worth living here, or did her past still haunt
her too much? Only Snowy can answer that one. We know we did
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