Today I just have to share the story of Two Eagles. Tweagle, as we sometimes call him, is one of my latest rescues and probably my most challenging yet! A friend of mine, who also works rescue, called and asked if I could help transfer a llama; of course, no problem. So the whole family loads up in the truck and we head to the top of Red Mtn. Pass to pick him up.
We had absolutely no information on him, not even a name. The owner must have been a real piece of work! I was told that he was a gelding (neutered) and we just needed to take him to his new home. Again, no problem.
The problems started to arise as soon as we got on site. The extraordinarily nice lady who was also doing a leg of the transport, proudly started showing me around her place. Lots of fiber llamas, etc. So Tom comes up to me and tells me he's a little worried as the llama we were there to get, just charged the fence at him. He also had a rope tied around his back leg that was growing in, along with the halter that had been on so long he had bloody areas from it!
Charging at humans is a HUGE red flag that we may be dealing with a dangerous llama. The gal, says no, he's just a "Lover", normal llamas are not lovers! Her and I head into his corral and he immediately jumped on the woman, putting his front legs on her shoulders, and she quietly says "Oh that's a bad boy"! I was in shock for a millisecond and then started swinging my rope around my head screaming like a crazed woman, needless to say he backed off. I had done some research on "Berserk Llama Syndrome" and knew this fella had most of the warning signs.
We got him loaded up, before he killed the overly nice lady trying to help him and headed back to the ranch. I spoke with my friends (my llama mentors) and we decided that he was in no way a candidate for placement and may even have to be put down. As you can imagine, we were all crushed.
We knew that he had been by himself, which is a major mistake with llamas, they are herd animals and if not treated that way, they think humans are their herd and try to fight with them the way they would any incoming new 'visitor '. Our only hope was to put him immediately in with my rough and tumble herd, so that they could teach him how to be a llama. It was a difficult decision for me because I usually let my new guys meet over the fence for a week or so, to avoid some of the initial fighting for hierarchy purposes.
We got the rope off of his leg with a lot of distraction on my part and Tom's precision work with wire cutters. Llamas are prey animals and do not like their legs or heads touched! We knew the head would take quite some time to heal and he was too wild to allow us to mess with it anyway. I also noticed that he was absolutely not a gelding, which could contribute to his behavior if not in a herd setting. We knew the poor guy was in for some trouble, but it was the only hope of saving his life.
We put him directly in with the herd, and I don't think Tweagle quit running around for 3 days! Not only was he happy to be here, no halter on, and out of danger; but he absolutely adored life with other llamas. They did make sure he knew his place, but I also think they knew he'd had a rough time of it, so they were a little easier on him-I was thrilled!
For about the first two months, we had to go in armed with a stick, but once I started pushing back into his personal space when he got into mine, he learned pretty quickly that I am BOSS on my ranch! I will never fully trust him, and keep an eye on my backside when I'm bent over cleaning the water trough or something, but the progress he has made is astounding! He has even done a few pack trips with us. I am hoping with time he'll get the fiber back on his head. I was trying to take a picture to show you, but the camera made him too curious to stand still, he just kept following me! If you look at any of my other llama pics, on my websites or here, you see that this itself is different behavior than most llamas.
As you know by now, I am a huge bird geek! Hummingbirds being my favorite and birds of prey running a very close second place. On our way to get this crazy llama, we were lucky enough to spot two Bald Eagles. That is where his name came from, I just wish he wasn't bald as well-Ha!