The North Okanagan Shuswap’s favourite camelids have found a new, likely permanent home.
After a last-minute move to Mara at the end of March from their temporary Vernon home, the Llama Sanctuary’s herd of 36 llamas and alpacas, their human caretakers, and all of the animals’ required supplies and equipment moved again in April.
An opportunity was presented to sanctuary co-owners Lynne Milsom and David Chapman in the form of greenspace at Recline Ridge EcoPark at 1315 Tappen Valley Road (formerly occupied by Orica Canada).
Chapman said although the park is mostly industrial land, the green area in the middle is designated Agricultural Land Reserve.
“The park’s goal is sustainability, and the llama park can feature in the middle of that,” said Chapman. “They needed something to do with that land, and someone to cut the grass, so we seemed to fit in very well with their plans. It fits in with ours as well.”
Chapman said he and Milsom feel a rapport with the owners of the park, and that the llamas are safe because the property is gated so visitors can’t come as the please – they need to book an appointment ahead of time or they’ll be met with a locked gate.
Moving the llamas again so soon was challenging, Chapman said. At the Mara property, the animals were in a very large field so corralling them into a smaller compound, through a gate and into trailers, was tricky.
“Some said no,” laughed Chapman. “But we know how they work; we got them the next day.”
Overall, the move went smoothly. The challenge now lies in building out their new home.
While there is a perimeter fence around Tappen property, some of it is barbed wire that Chapman wants to replace, and additional fencing needs to be put in to divide the large space into smaller enclosures. The land also has no structures on it, and the llamas need shade going into the hot summer months. Chapman is close to finishing rebuilding the barn with a canopy roof they used at the sanctuary’s earlier home in Chase, but it requires levelling ground and putting in foundation blocks. He also has plans to plant trees, but those will take years to grow tall enough to provide shade.
“The llamas are delighted with their new situation,” said Chapman. “They weren’t very happy where they were. Now they’re much more playful and being themselves.”
Shearing time is also approaching, which Chapman prefers to do under some shaded cover. He said the llamas are looking scruffy as the sanctuary has had a difficult few months and they haven’t kept up with perfect grooming.
“We’ll get them spruced up, shorn down, and start again. It’s a fresh start.”
He mentioned there was vegetation damaging the animals’ coats at the last property, and they were left with burrs and knots. In Tappen, Chapman said they can handle landscaping and weed control much more easily.
To celebrate their new home and welcome visitors back to hang out with the llamas, the sanctuary is hosting a reopening event and fundraiser. Interested visitors must book a reservation ahead of time for the May 6 or 7 event, beginning at 2 p.m. both days. Admission is $20 per adult and reservations can be made through Facebook messenger, or by calling
“Although it’s very crude beginnings, the llamas are the main feature, and they miss the attention.”
Chapman is also excited to have Wi-Fi hooked up as of May 2, and promises more online updates and llama photos to come.
The sanctuary’s last move cost around $26,000, and Chapman said he and Milsom didn’t expect to have to move twice. He said he’s spent around $5,000 on fencing materials already, so any financial aid is welcome. Donations can be made at llamasanctuary.com.