Children at the New Britain Public Library last Thursday night, April 5, had a special treat as they had the opportunity to meet and pet “Theo” the Llama from Country Quilt Llama Farm in Cornwall.
Debbie Labbe brought “Leo”, who is 7 years old, to teach the children about the camelid during “Hooked on Llamas” at the children’s library.
“Llamas are very friendly animals and they are very nice to other animals,” Labbe told the crowd of about 30 children. “They are very curious about other animals.”
Theo has a favorite dog named “Rocky”. He greets the dog by smelling him on the head.
Llamas only spit at other llama’s for food or because they are bothering them. Labbe said llama’s tend to walk away, but as a last resort will spit at another llama.
Labbe said an alpaca is a cousin of the llama. They are related, but totally different animals. Alpacas are smaller and have a lot of fur that makes them big and puffy. A camel is also a cousin of the llama.
“Llamas and alpacas both come from South America. The people in South America use the alpaca for their fur,” said Labbe. “The llama is a pack animal. It carries backpacks and you can put things in it. That is their job. They cannot carry people as they are not built the same way as a horse. They can be trained to pull a cart. You can be pulled in the cart.”
Llamas are very social animals and live with other llamas as a herd. The wool produced by a llama is very soft and lanolin-free. Llamas are intelligent and can learn simple tasks after a few repetitions.
Theo is transported across the state in van. He lies down in a van and two llamas can fit in one van.
Llamas appear to have originated from the central plains of North America about 40 million years ago. They migrated to South America about three million years ago during the Great American Interchange.
Country Quilt Llama Farm brings animals to events for children or nursing homes, convalescent centers, assisted living and adult daycare centers.
Labbe told the crowd that llamas can be 6 feet tall. When the babies are born they weigh about 20-25 pounds. Only one is born to a mother at a time. At 3-4 years old llamas are full grown. They weigh between 200-450 pounds full grown. “Theo” weighs 250 pounds.
Children asked a variety of questions including what the llamas eat. They eat grass and hay, but can eat carrots and apples as treats. They live to between 15-20 years old.
After the program children gathered in a line to pet Theo’s neck.
“It was cute and it was soft,” said Freya, age 5.
Khaliah Villatoro, who is 6 years old, said she liked petting the llama the best.
“I got to pet him on the brown part a little,” she said. “Under his chin and I felt his ear a little.”
“I pet him on the neck,” said Naseer Oneall, who is 7. “I learned that the llama is 250 pounds. He is 7 years.”
The children said they would be back to the library for other events.
Kids were given a coloring book of Llamas and a word search about llamas before they left.
For more information about library programs call 860-224-3155 Ext. 121.