Your llama

I’ve held back on writing this post earlier because of how difficult the events that took place over the weekend of April 25, 2015 were for me. Please know this is an emotionally exhausting post for me to share with all of you dear readers.

First things first. I’ve never provided the full explanation of why llamas are my favorite animal. My love for llamas came about when I was ten years old, attending a summer equestrian camp. Since I was a late registrant, the camp was short a horse. Thankfully, one of the trainers had brought her pet llama to the ranch that week. She offered her magnificent animal to me as a substitute. Sure, my “horse” had crooked teeth and would occasionally try to kamikaze into the nearest wall, but we had a bond that could not be put into words. While the other campers went on the usual trails with their four hoofed friends, my companion (“Bahama”) would take me on the paths less traveled. In fact, I spent over 24 hours away from the others due to Bahama sprinting into the mountains with me hanging on like stink on a monkey. The search crew eventually found us on a mountain peak and brought us back to safety after tranquilizing poor Bahama. It has been llama love for me ever since.

Fast forward to the annual Zappos Roos n’ More fundraiser. For a weekend we bring in all sorts of animals to the Zappos campus for children and adults to enjoy. It’s a great way to raise money for the Roos n’ More Zoo. I get amped for this event like no other. Of course, one of the reasons I get so excited is because it’s yet another excuse to bring in more llamas! Except this year there were no llamas on display at the Zappos Roos n’ More event. Let me explain why.

It’s early Saturday morning before the fun officially kicks off. I request to lead the handling of the llamas. I provide my credentials to the zoo staff – a gold medal from the ’83 Equestrian Jr. Olympics with a certificate noting my win on Bahama and a picture of me atop my “horse” on the mountain peak we were rescued from. After some back and forth I was finally put in charge of the llamas. I lead the pack out to an area I setup with tarps and cases of teal spray paint. I position the first llama in the line, grab a can of paint, and begin to tag it, channeling my inner Banksy. As I’m in the zone, tagging the first llama, some of the zoo staff tackle me from behind. I pass out from the chloroform rag they held across my face.

Teal 4 Life llama

TEAL 4 LIFE

I awaken in a room with a single source of light shining brightly on me from above. I’m sitting in a chair with my feet and hands tied. Everything is a blur. I squint long and hard enough to make out a shadowy figure in front of me. Minutes pass and then I hear, “What do you think you were doing out there Mr. Huh-say?”

I try to correct the mispronunciation of my last name but it’s no use. I finally provide an answer, “I was trying to teal up the festivities.”

The shadowy figure walks towards me, face hidden in the dark. “My name is Ingrid Newkirk, Mr. Huh-say. I’m the president of PETA. I got the ‘bat signal’ from my boots on the ground and helicoptered here within minutes. Do you understand why I’m here, Mr. Huh-say?”

I’m not sure if this is some sort of weird dream. I feel a bit groggy and the light shining directly in my eyes isn’t helping.

“You’re with PETA?” I ask with a sense of hope in my voice.

“Yes.” Ingrid replies.

THANK YOU!” I shout with exuberance.

“I don’t think you understand Mr. Huh-say…” Ingrid says and comes within a step away from my chair.

“You’re with ‘People for Excellence in Tagging Animals’, no?” I ask puzzled.

Though I can’t see her face, I can sense the anger emanating from Ingrid’s general direction.

“Wrong, sir! Wrong! I am here on behalf of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Under section 37B of the contract signed by you, it states quite clearly that all offers shall become null and void if – and you can read it for yourself in this photostatic copy,” Ingrid grabs a magnifying glass out of her pocket and continues reading the small print, “I, the undersigned, shall forfeit all rights, privileges, and licenses herein and herein contained, et cetera, et cetera… Fax mentis incendium gloria cultum, et cetera, et cetera… Memo bis punitor delicatum!”

Ingrid throws the magnifying glass down, shattering it.

“It’s all there, black and white, clear as crystal! You spray painted a llama! You tainted the precious creature which now has to be washed and sterilized, so you get nothing! You lose! No llamas for you or your godforsaken zoo! Good day, sir!”

Ingrid with chickenShe turns and begins to walk out of the room. She stops after maybe eight steps, bends over, picks something up, turns and walks directly towards me. Before I can make out what she is holding, a sharp pointy object strikes my forehead. I try to duck out of the way only to have my head attacked. I nearly flip out of the chair when I realize Ingrid is holding a rooster that is mercilessly pecking me. She lets out a vicious laugh as her feathered henchman gouges my head. After minutes of pleading for my life, Ingrid finally concedes. She takes her wicked rooster and leaves the room.

I learned an important lesson that day – PETA is NOT short for People for Excellence in Tagging Animals. Duly noted.

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