WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.
Only in Portland would someone have to worry about what kind of effect tear gas might have on a llama.
It's something Larry McCool was forced to consider when he decided to bring Caesar, his 6-year-old Argentine therapy llama, to the Black Lives Matter protests downtown. Dubbed "the No Drama Llama," the camelid was meant to act as a calming presence for demonstrators in the midst of a tense situation.
But McCool, the 66-year-old owner of Mystic Llama Farm in Jefferson, Ore., knew things could get chaotic at a moment's notice. He couldn't find any evidence of exactly what noxious gas might do to Caesar but insists he took precautions to ensure he wouldn't have to find out.
In attending the protests, Caesar—who followed in the footsteps of the late, lamented Rojo, earning local celebrity status last year after a photo of him riding the MAX went viral—has joined the ranks of the Wall of Moms and Naked Athena as a point of national media fixation. He was recently the subject of articles in The Washington Post, the New York Post and People, and a photo gallery of protesters hugging Caesar was featured on the website of the English-language Indian newspaper the Hindustan Times.
To be fair, though, the attention doesn't seem to have changed him much—he spent much of his time in our interview with McCool gently nuzzling his owner.
McCool, meanwhile, discusses what compelled him to take Caesar downtown in the first place, how marchers reacted to him, and why Portland seems to be such a hotbed for famous llamas.
See more Distant Voices interviews here.