Rojo the Llama has spent 12 years as the city's most famous therapy animal, making more than 600 visits to local schools and hospitals around Portland and Vancouver since starting his career in 2007.
His retirement was announced last June, and to celebrate, he'll make what may be one of his last public appearances at Pioneer Courthouse Square on Sunday, October 27.
Born in 2002, Rojo worked as a show animal in a 4-H program until a spectator observed his exceptionally gentle demeanor and suggested he might have a promising career in therapy.
His handler, Shannon Joy, enrolled him in the animal therapy program at DoveLewis Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital in 2007. When he passed, Joy and her mother Lori Gregory founded Mtn Peaks Therapy Llamas & Alpacas in Vancouver, Wash., whose cadre has since expanded to 11 camelids.
At 17, Rojo is well into old age—20 years is a typical lifespan for the species. He's showing signs of slowing down and currently resides on a farm in Ridgefield, Washington.