The largest llama sanctuary in Canada is just a short drive away | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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The largest llama sanctuary in Canada is just a short drive away

The Llama Sanctuary has been operating in Chase B.C. for the last 15 years.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / David Chapman
November 01, 2020 - 3:29 PM

When David Chapman and Lynne Milsom moved to B.C. from England, they had no idea they'd end up running a llama sanctuary.

All it took was one llama in need of help. 

“One day, we received a message that there was a llama that was going to become pet food, but if we could catch him, we could keep him," Chapman said.

A friend had alerted them to the situation, knowing the two were animal lovers.

"We went out to have a look, and he just wanted to be caught," he said. "He stepped into our lives, taught us all about llamas, and we fell in love with these majestic, noble, independent creatures.”

The two have been rehabilitating and rehoming llamas and alpacas at their sanctuary in Chase B.C. ever since.

The Llama Sanctuary has been operating in Chase B.C. for the last 15 years.
The Llama Sanctuary has been operating in Chase B.C. for the last 15 years.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / David Chapman

Over the past 15 years of operation they have run their rescue without staff, all for the love of llamas.

Llamas are actually quite unique, and have a reputation for being great guardians, Chapman said. While some will let a coyote run between their legs without batting an eye, most llamas are instinctive protectors.

“Llamas are good at alerting everyone else in the area to the presence of a predator, they make an alarm sound,” he said. “If they have a number of charges, they may actually round them up and put them in a corner.”

The Llama Sanctuary has been operating in Chase B.C. for the last 15 years.
The Llama Sanctuary has been operating in Chase B.C. for the last 15 years.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / David Chapman

Llamas will also advance towards a predator to intimidate them, and strategically mark the perimeters of their territory to ward off unwanted visitors with the pungent smell.

One of the llamas in their care was surrendered because he took his sheep guarding duties a little too far.

"One of the goats head-butted a sheep and sent it flying, and the owner happened to be in the pen at the time," Chapman said. "The llama thought that she had pushed his sheep over, so he attacked her. From that moment on, he detested her."

The Llama Sanctuary has been operating in Chase B.C. for the last 15 years.
The Llama Sanctuary has been operating in Chase B.C. for the last 15 years.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / David Chapman

The llamas in their care are surrendered for many different reasons. Sometimes the owner dies and is no longer able to care for them, or they’re rescued from poor living conditions by the B.C. SPCA.

Over the past several months, Chapman has noticed a big spike in surrenders from owners no longer able to care for their animals due to financial trouble.

“We received so many calls,” he said. “We were really, really busy, then at the same time, the funds pretty much dried up.”

The sanctuary is funded through direct donations and sales of items online, like yarn. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sanctuary has seen a big drop-off in donations. While yarn sales have started to pick up again, it’s nowhere near enough to cover the sanctuary’s costs, Chapman said.

Meadow was attacked by a bear near Vernon a few weeks ago and is now recovering at the Llama Sanctuary.
Meadow was attacked by a bear near Vernon a few weeks ago and is now recovering at the Llama Sanctuary.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / David Chapman

While some of the llamas can be rehomed quickly, others require specialized care they can’t get anywhere else.

“Many that we receive, they’ve never been halter trained, never been handled, or if they have, many have been mishandled,” he said.

He added they're the largest specialized sanctuary for llamas and alpacas in the country. 

One of their most recent rescues needing long-term care was attacked by a bear a few weeks ago near Vernon.

Although very injured, Meadow the llama has a chance at recovery and is currently in care among the sanctuary's other 40 residents.

Anyone can visit the sanctuary just by booking ahead of time. Small groups can pet the animals and learn all about the llamas and alpacas in Chapman and Milsom's care.

To donate or buy yarn and other products, visit the sanctuary's webpage here. To contact the sanctuary and book a visit, click here.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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