Grande's Story

by Nina Pederson

I wanted to share this story because it is one of the reasons I do llama rescue and it had a happy ending for all.

A few years ago, I was contacted by a woman in Southern California who said she needed assistance placing her male llama, Grande. She lived with her young children in a residential area of a Mojave Desert town, and her boyfriend had brought her home this llama. It was in her backyard and she didn’t’ know how to care for it. She had a few Nigerian goats who immediately were friends with the llama, as well as the children. The backyard was only dirt. She knew enough to get hay for the llama. The woman said she was getting rid of the goats and said she knew the llama should have a better home with its own kind and someone who knew how to care for it.

The history behind the llama, Grande, was he had lived at a large exotic petting zoo in a pen all his life. For exercise, his owner would tie him behind his tractor and pull him around a field to walk him, then put him back in his pen. The owners were now elderly and closing the petting zoo and selling all the animals to butchers or private owners. The woman’s boyfriend heard of this and got Grande.

The woman was ok with feeding Grande until I got arrangements in place. I asked that a vet come out and examine Grande, give vaccinations, and report. Her estimate of his age was 12 but found out Grande was closer to 17 to 20 years old. He still had his fighting teeth but was gelded. Not shorn and a little thin.

It took several weeks to get arrangements in place. Part of this was the woman had become very attached to Grande and worried where he was going.  I couldn’t find a temporary or permanent home for him in Southern California, even Northern California was getting difficult with an older male. I phoned some friends who had a guard llama and medium size flock of Barbados sheep on 7 acres. Explaining the situation, they agreed to take Grande.

The big day came. I contacted my friend, Lisa, who lived 200 miles north of this woman. She drove down and picked up Grande, turned around and drove north.  I drove south and east, and we rendezvoused with my trailer to meet in a mall parking lot. Grande was kushed in the trailer and didn’t want to get out. He was scared. It was another long trailer ride back to my ranch and the next day, I took him to his new home on 7 lush green acres of pasture. He had probably never seen green grass or run free in his life.

Today he co-guards the sheep with the other llama. The sheep will go between one llama and the other. He is truly spoiled with his new owners with great hay, treats of carrots/apples, and llama pellets. He has a shelter out of the rain. He can run free, is not penned up and pulled by a tractor.

The woman who initially had Grande emailed me.  She had wanted to drive up here and see where he was living now and I had to tell her no to protect the new owners identity.  She had a big heart. If it wasn’t for her selflessness, Grande would still be in a bad situation.

I sent her a photo of Grande with “his” sheep all around him and with the other llama in his new home.