Category Archives: Blog

Can llamas give us a universal flu vaccine?

This is a bit of news that points to the importance of studying animals and how little we know about anything really. Let’s hope that our lovely llamas may be able to help us all getting flu as that would be very nice. Enjoy the story.

Can llamas give us a universal flu vaccine?

Diana Gitig | Ars Technica | November 13, 2018

Llama antibodies are different from ours. Our antibodies are a mix of two pairs of proteins, heavy and light, wrapped around each other. Llamas, camels, and sharks all use only a pair of heavy chains. Because they are smaller, they can wedge into molecular crevices that our larger antibodies can’t access. Perhaps that’s why scientists based at The Scripps Institute decided to use them as a basis for flu protection.

There are four types of influenza viruses, creatively termed A, B, C, and D. Influenzas A and B are responsible for seasonal epidemics in humans, and influenza A is the one that causes pandemics.

Researchers immunized llamas with a flu vaccine and extra hemagglutinin molecules and isolated four antibodies the llamas made, two against influenza A and two against influenza B.

Related article:  How math skills and a love of patterns are linked to autism

When given to mice intravenously a day before the mice were infected with flu, the fusion antibodies were protective against a panel of 60 different flu viruses. And when administered to the mice intranasally a month before infection, they were also able to confer protection.

“If the above preclinical findings translate to humans, an annual intranasal administration may provide passive protection for the entire influenza season and would be of particular benefit to the elderly and other high-risk groups,” they conclude.

Read full, original post: Llama “nanobodies” might grant universal flu protection

Llama Teddy

The Teddy Selfie Competition.

We have had a overwhelming number of emails from you all sharing your stories, photos and memories of our great boy!

Sadly many were very good photos but not selfies…

So the winner is Mandy Moo, photo below, and her prize is a
Family Walk for 2 adults and 2 children…

 

Mandy Moo winner of the Teddy selfie competition. Whose got the better teeth then?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research on llamas, alpacas and the Inca Empire

Research on llamas, alpacas and the Inca Empire: Happy New Year!

We all have some interest in llamas and alpacas, yet some of you may not be completely aware of the essential role they played in kick-starting Andean societies. Without them there would have been no Machu Picchu, nor could Andean people have survived at such high altitudes.

As you know, alpacas and llamas provide wool, dung, meat and pack animals, and in particular it was the combination of their extraordinary wool and wonderful dung, which not only allowed the earliest societies in the Andes to keep warm and dry, but also to grow high yields of maize and potatoes from at least 2700 years ago; 2000 years later this would contribute to the meteoric rise of the Inca.

As scientists staring down microscopes for many years, often preoccupied with writing scientific papers, many of which only a few people read, we had forgotten that there is a huge audience, who may not only be interested but to whom some of this information might even be useful. So this is our first attempt at “outreach”, with a focus on you who are connected with alpacas and llamas in all kinds of different ways.

We are a small dedicated team of three: Drs Alex Chepstow-Lusty and Michael Frogley (Sussex University, UK) and Anne Baker (Natural History Museum, London).

We study Peruvian lake sediments, particularly from the small lake (more of an infilled pond) of Marcacocha,

located 12 km from the Inca town of Ollantaytambo- which some of you may know because one passes through it on the way to Machu Picchu. Out of this lake mud, we examine everything we can: from pollen, seeds, charcoal, algae, fungal spores, and particularly, little relatives of spiders, called “oribatid mites”-more about them later!

We are trying to understand using all these microscopic biological remains how Andean societies not only took off, but how they fluctuated with climate change, or how they found solutions to manage their environments: planting trees; using a high diversity of crops, including many varieties of maize (corn), potatoes and other tubers; re-landscaping the landscape with terraces and intricate irrigation systems; or using llamas and alpacas, which caused less erosion to the soil with their delicate hooves or damage to the vegetation.

One major aspect of this research is studying the fluctuating numbers of “oribatid mites”, (small detritivores about 1-2 mm in size, i.e. which eat the broken down remains of plant matter, including llama-alpaca dung!).

As numbers of mites increase or decrease in the layers of lake mud, which get older as you go down, it tells us about livestock numbers using the pasture close to the lake. We can clearly show the rise of the Inca Empire, but also its sudden collapse after the arrival of the Spaniards.

At Marcacocha, long caravans of llamas carrying goods (up to 10,000 animals) to and from the tropical lowlands used to graze next to the lake during Inca times and defecate communally. And this was easily gathered as fertilizer and cooking fuel, while the oribatid mites were happy too-and they provide a record of this trade after being deposited in the lake muds.

Here are a few links to stories that have been in the media:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-secret-to-machu-picchus-success-llama-poop-178734335/

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2011/05/did-llama-dung-spur-rise-andean-civilization

That will probably do for today, and hope you do not mind being contacted in this way, as occasionally with academic research it is good to get out of the bubble-and make links with many more people.

And please circulate this email to fellow llama-alpaca friends and colleagues, who you think might be interested and if they contact us, we can add them to the list

All the best for 2019 and look forward to hearing from you

Alex, Mick and Anne

http://www.sussex.ac.uk/broadcast/read/1327

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/our-science/our-work/biodiversity/acari-research.html

DISABLED

Disabled

Reviews made by people on the internet are public and open for response by the people about whom the comments have been made. Google and Trip Advisor provide this facility. Quite often people make wrong statements on line, sometimes they tell out and out lies, as they do not have to face the people about whom they are wrongly complaining and can comment anonymously so they cannot be identified unlike me who can be identified.

So one example.

A few days ago some one – an anonymous Finnish reviewer using the name “Urmasdejormas” who claimed to be autistic – wrote that “The Llama Park was not suitable for the disabled.” My concern for such a wide-ranging and un-evidenced statement comes from the wide-ranging mental and physical disorders covered by that word ‘disabled’.

In 1984 I was fortunate to have been present at the arrival into this world of my son whose birth was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Unfortunately, due to an inherited chromosome abnormality, his development, both mental and physical, was severely diminished earning him the label of ‘disabled’. Sadly Max died several years years ago at the age of 30.

Max with Bessie our dog

Max in a mischievous mood…

Because I have experienced the difficulties from which disabled people, whatever the disability, suffer I have made it my responsibility to ensure that disabled visitors coming to the Llama Park are warmly welcomed, have several reserved parking places, that disabled visitors get discounted rates, carers do not pay entry and where we can we have flat hard-faced surfaces, toilet facilities and so on.

As a result we regularly receive visits from disabled individuals and organisations representing disabled people from a very wide spectrum of society as they know we will do our very best to meet their needs, welcome them warmly and treat them kindly.

The disabilities with which our ‘disabled’ customers suffer are wide-ranging and include the Blind and Partially Sighted, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Alzheimers, Dementia, Parkinsons, Mentally and Physically Disabled, Limbless, wheelchair, walker and crutch users, the Autistic, Epileptics, and many more.

So how when we try so hard to welcome people who are “disabled” do you think I feel when someone criticises us and says the The Llama Park is not suitable for “The Disabled”?

How would you like it if someone was rude or made comments about you and you could not answer back?

If someone is rude or tells lies about the Llama Park I want to be able to respond.

As I do not know to what the autistic reviewer was referring I cannot comment more than I have above. We welcome people suffering from Autism here all the time and indeed there is a local autism school close by which brings students here regularly and they have a great time.

So when, and if, you (the reviewer) come to England come here and see us. We are not scary. You will be welcomed and your spelling – for a Finn – is not bad at all.

Cheers,

Bobby

Birth

One of the greatest joys of being on a farm at Spring-time is the joy of birthing and all those little animals that come with it. Of course the other great joy is the sunshine and the fact that people actually start to come back and visit The Park all over again. ‘Orrible winter.

I often think of us as midwives when we get baby animals and realise the joy that it must be for midwives being there every day for all those hundreds of babies. I was there for the birth of both my children and I thought it was the best thing I had ever experienced in my life.

My son was first and after his birth I went knocking on ward doors to see if I could watch other babies being born and I was thrown out of that wonderful hospital in Hammersmith in London, Queen Charlottes, one of the oldest maternity hospitals in the country. Both my children were born there. My daughter by Caesarean which was very interesting at 730 in the morning.

But back to the Park and the recent birth of 9 lovely little piglets. Piglets are – for me – the best babies you get at The Park. They are so small, no more than a handful and seem to be just like little human babies, pink skin and tiny.

The father was Bugsy (named after my best friend at school and of course Bugsy Moran, Mafia gangster and our hero in those days) who is a ginormous 300 kilo Welsh pig with a very sweet nature. But I would not want him jumping on me, that is for sure!!

The Mum is Talulah, a Saddle Back, and she is being a wonderful Mum but she has a very nasty skin-breaking nip. This is her first litter for us and we got her from a nice lady called Jane over in Stonegate. And we hope we get a lot more litters too…

Mud, Mud Glorious Mud

We have created a Llama Mud Song
with apologies to Michael Flanders

“The Lllamapotamus”
With apologies to Michael Flanders…

A bold llamapotamus was standing one day
On the banks of the Pippingford stream
He gazed at the bottom as it peacefully lay
By the light of the evening star

Away on the hilltop sat combing her hair
His fair llamapotamine maid
But llama-pot-amus was no stick-in-the-mudamus
And sang her this sweet serenade

Mud, mud, glorious mud
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood
So follow me, follow me down to the hollow
And there let us wallow in glorious mud

The fair llamapotama he aimed to entice
From here seen on the hilltop above
As she had not got a ma to give her advice
Came tip-toeing down to her love

Mud, mud, glorious mud
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood
So follow me, follow me down to the hollow
And there let us wallow in glorious mud

Like thunder the forest re-echoed the sound
Of the song that they sang as they met
His enamorata adjusted her garter
And lifted her voice in duet

Mud, mud, what a glorious lark
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood
So follow me, follow to the llama park
And there let us wallow in glorious mud

Follow me, follow me to the llama park
There’s plenty of space in their car park
Now more llamapotami began to arrive
On the banks of that stream so big and so wide

I wonder now what I am to say of the scene
That ensued by the Pippingford side.
Llamapotami diving all at once with an ear-splitting splash
Then rose to the surface again and again
A regular army of llamapotami
All singing this jaunty refrain

Mud, mud, what a glorious lark
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood
So follow me, follow to the llama park
And there let us wallow in glorious mud

Trippy Advisor

The internet is a wonderful thing. It has completely changed the way we live and work and many would admit that they cannot live without it. However, as we all know, the Internet is also a force to be reckoned with – a pool of information from which you cannot retract information – once it’s out there, it belongs to the public.

Today, I would like to talk to you about Trip Advisor. Continue reading “Trippy Advisor” »

The joys of the great British summer (all two weeks of it)

As the summer holidays draw to a close and the August bank holiday draws ever closer, I have found myself thinking increasingly about what it is that makes a child’s summer special. What small gestures and moments fit together to form a summer jigsaw in a child’s mind. There are those wonderful images like riding a donkey for the first time, making yourself sick on a ride at a funfair or being brave and running into the sea with your trousers rolled up.

Continue reading “The joys of the great British summer (all two weeks of it)” »

How to Become a Llama Farmer at 60

As I sit here and think about what to write for The Llama Park’s first blog post, it occurs to me that perhaps the best place to start is at the beginning. To truly understand The Llama Park, maybe it is best to understand me and my family. My name is Lily Schuck and I am 23 years old, the daughter of two of the most incredible people in the world. Our journey in becoming owners of The Llama Park has been consistently told from the perspective of those two wonderful people and so, I felt it was time for a different angle. Continue reading “How to Become a Llama Farmer at 60” »