Therapy llamas are visiting nursing homes and hospitals in Washington state. The llamas and alpacas have received Animal-Assisted Therapy certification and enjoy spending time with children and adults in Washington and Oregon.
Mtn Peaks Therapy Llamas Alpacas primarily visit locations in Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. Since receiving the certification in 2007, the llamas and alpacas have traveled to over 650 different locations including rehabilitation facilities, schools, and senior citizen communities.
As reported by ABC News, two therapy llamas, Marisco and Flight, are regularly featured in a “kissing booth,” which allows adults and children to get “kisses” from the 300 pound animals.
Marisco and Flight are part of the JNK Llama farm, which like Mtn Peaks, provides therapy llamas to the community.
Niki Kuklenski, who handles Marisco and Flight, monitors their behavior closely. The llamas and alpacas are very gentle and happy to get lots of attention, but they can become aggravated at times.
Kuklenski points out that when the animals’ ears go back and they start making humming noises, they usually need a break. Otherwise, they are very friendly during the visits.
Both Mtn Peaks and JNK train llamas for therapy. Mtn Peaks also offers their llamas and alpacas for birthday parties and other events. The llamas have different accessories that they wear, depending on the event and season. When the therapy llamas visit nursing homes and hospitals, they usually wear brightly colored garland and accessories.
Mtn Peaks Therapy Llamas Alpacas offers a trivia section on their website, with interesting facts about the large, but friendly, animals.
Llamas and alpacas are both related to camels. The American llamas originated in South America.
The mothers carry only one baby at a time. Newborn llamas and alpacas, called crias, usually weigh around 25 pounds.
Adult llamas and alpacas usually weigh around 300 pounds. Their life expectancy is around 20 years.
Llamas and alpacas are gentle but smart animals. They have been found to be excellent guards for herds of goats and sheep, as they actually form a bond with the animals. They are not intimidated by coyotes and will fight them to save a flock of sheep.
Although llamas and alpacas are known to spit when threatened, they usually do not spit on or at humans unless provoked.
The therapy llamas that visit nursing homes and hospitals have been specifically trained and certified as therapy animals. They are accustomed to being around people and enjoy their visits as much as adults and children enjoy seeing them.
[Images via Facebook]