Llamas are the iconic animal of South America’s Andes mountains. They were domesticated very early, long before the Inca Empire was established and have had a prominent place in Andean art, especially pottery. Although the llama’s native turf is a long way from places we associate with camels, the fossil record shows that they are, in fact, related. Closer to home, in the Andes, there are several close llama relatives: alpacas, guanacos, and vicunas. These are so similar to llamas that they can actually be cross-bred. Llamas are not normally aggressive, but they are always on the alert and are easily alarmed. Agitated llamas are notorious for spitting, rather like camels.
Aside from being pack animals and a source of fine wool, llamas can serve as guard animals, protecting livestock from predators like coyotes and foxes. As we’ll see, they can deal with human intruders, too.
Brian Barczyk, the producer of Animal Bytes TV, was put in the role of zookeeper for the first time in his career. His task: clean up the petting area, including the llama enclosure, at the Tri-State Zoological Park in Cumberland, Maryland. “This seems like a pretty easy job.” As you’ll see in the uproarious video we’ve posted below, Barczyk had an interesting first day.
The narrator intones, “You’d expect animals in the petting area to be quite docile. But it seems Misty, a 4-year-old llama-alpaca cross, isn’t that keen on having Brian in the pen.” As you’ll see in the video we’ve posted, Misty’s efforts to make Barczyk feel unwelcome are downright hilarious. There’s eventually a chase that will leave you doubled-over laughing.
Do you love alpacas and llamas? Or at least for their wool? Would you ever get in an enclosure with one? Let us know in the comments at Facebook. Be sure to like and share: your friends will definitely get a kick out of this one.