[ Lama glama ]
5 ½ to 6 feet at the head
||280 to 450 pounds
||alfalfa and grain
southern and western South America; domesticated worldwide
You may know llamas for their unique way of communicating – spitting at and on each other – but it’s a safe bet there’s also a lot you don’t know about this South American pack animal. For example, lamas are in the same family as camels. Also related to alpacas, guanacos and vicunas, llamas are one of the oldest domestic animals in the world. In fact, they’re descendents of the wild guanacos in Peru’s Andean Highlands during the Incan empire about 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.
Multi Colored Critter
Llamas come in many colors and patterns, including white, black, brown and grey, often with irregular light and dark sections. Overall, their fur is very soft and is naturally lanolin free, meaning it isn’t greasy or waxy. At Brookfield Zoo, our llamas are sheared each spring to help keep them cool in the hot summer.
So, what exactly is a llama good for?
Well, lots of things! Aside from being easily trainable, curious, and intelligent animals, a llama’s wool can be woven into clothes and blankets. Throughout the world, llamas are also used to guard herds of domestic livestock, as predators are startled by the llamas loud alarm call.
A very hard, sturdy animal, llamas can carry 30% of their body weight, which is about 200 pounds. For the people that live in and near the Andes Mountains, this skill is especially useful and in South American, these many attributes have immortalized the llama poetry and fiction as a symbol of the country’s patriotism.