The Owners of Two Portland Celebrity Llamas Are Feuding

The former handlers of Rojo the Therapy Llama accuse the owner of Caesar the No Drama Llama of making disparaging comments and "exploiting" Rojo's legacy.

(Justin Katigbak)

From the city that brought you squabbling strip clubs and pork-related chef brawls comes a new entry to the category of public in-fighting among Portland cultural figures: celebrity llama drama.

Well, not between the llamas themselves, who seem pretty chill, but their respective handlers.

In a lengthy, since-deleted Instagram story posted on New Year's Eve, Shannon Joy, co-founder of the nonprofit Mountain Peaks Therapy Llamas & Alpacas in Woodland, Wash.—and one of the owners of the late, much-lamented therapy llama Rojo—aired out some long-simmering beef between her organization and the owner of another prominent Oregon camelid, known ironically enough as Caesar the No Drama Llama.

It started back in March, when a Reddit post featuring a photo of Caesar riding the MAX en route to Rose City Comic Con went viral and got picked up by local media. Following the increased notoriety, Caesar's familiar, Larry McCool of Mystic Llama Farms in Jefferson, Ore., made offhand comments on social media which Joy interpreted as slights aimed at Mountain Peaks and their handling of Rojo, including using the "c" word—"circus."

"And because he is a normal llama, and lives a normal llama life, I will never dress him up in costumes, hats, blankets or other coverings," McCool wrote on Facebook. (Rojo often appeared at events wearing a top hat and other accessories.) "So please do not ask me or him to perform these circus acts."

Joy says she made note of the remarks, but chose not to respond. Months later, though, tensions reignited when a resident of Peacock Lane decided to dedicate her holiday display to Rojo, who died in November. On opening night, McCool showed up outside the house with Caesar, posing for photos and speaking to local news. To Joy, it was a slap in the face that could no longer be ignored.

"This shameless hypocrisy and exploitation of Rojo, purely for self-promotion, is what finally crossed an ethical line that we felt had to be confronted," Joy wrote in a post on Rojo's Facebook page.

Related: Rojo, Portland's Beloved Therapy Llama, Will Be Euthanized Tomorrow

In response, McCool denied any ill intent, referring to the accusations as "completely unfounded." In a later email to Joy, which she shared on Instagram, McCool said he asked the owner of the house on Peacock Lane for permission to attend, and that it was never made clear to him that the display was meant explicitly as a tribute to Rojo and Mountain Peaks. (WW reached out to the house's owner, Tonya Davidson, for clarification, but did not immediately receive a response.)

McCool also denied that his earlier comments were directed at Mountain Peaks, saying that he was simply answering questions the public often asks about Caesar.

"It has never been and will continue not to be my plan to disparage anything you or your animals have done," he wrote.

Joy wrote that the Instagram post was meant to "clear the air" going into 2020. Although she said she'd keep the video up for a week, she deleted the story the next day and declined to comment further. McCool did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Regardless, let's just hope this beef stays online and doesn't spill over into the streets, elementary schools, elderly care facilities or wherever else famous llamas tend to visit. We don't want this getting any uglier than it is already.

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