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Approximately 260 children of all ages learned about llamas when two llamas visited Salem Church Library last week.
Date published: 4/25/2001
"They are very intelligent animals," Linda Wunce said. "You can teach them to lead on a halter, go in a trailer and go on a hike in one day. The downside is that if you teach them a bad thing, it takes years and years to unlearn it."
Linda and Pat Wunce and their two youngest daughters, 16-year-old Catherine and 12-year-old Stephanie, train their llamas to participate monthly in llama shows. Similar to horse shows, the llamas are judged on things such as appearance, showmanship and performance in obstacle courses.
The Wunce family farm, dubbed Lil' Bit of Heaven Farm, is home to 30 llamas, five miniature donkeys, seven cashmere goats, 15 Shetland sheep, three horses, five dogs, five cats, two parakeets and one fish.
The family conditions the llamas to guard their sheep, a practice farmers across the country follow. Llamas have sweat glands on the bottoms of their feet, which produce an unfamiliar scent to scare away predators such as coyotes, wolves and mountain lions. If peril does lurk nearby, the llamas send out a loud alarm call.
And in the face of danger, llamas run 30 miles per hours, so they can outrun even mountain lions, Linda Wunce said. Other defense mechanisms include spitting, kicking and biting.
But llamas are naturally gentle creatures, the Wunces maintain.
In fact, Linda Wunce would like to become pet-therapy certified, which would enable her to visit hospitals and nursing homes.
"Llamas are very therapeutic," said Pat Wunce, who works as an area service representative for Tennant Co. "Most people have the wrong concept of what they are like. As much as we can, we attend different functions. We want to inform the public."
So the family travels throughout the area to introduce llamas to day-care centers, schools, special events--and libraries.