An escaped llama has been rescued by a Montana outfitter just before the park closed up for the winter.
Ike isn’t like most llamas. Where normally a llama is a fairly chill creature, Ike is quick and quirky. He’s smart--smart enough to slip his leash and escape into Yellowstone National Park while out on an expedition.
But before we get into his amazing abilities as the world’s first llama escape artist, we need to establish a few base facts. First, Ike originally belonged to Wilderness Ridge Trail Llamas in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Llamas are often much better pack animals than mules or horses, so they often get picked up by outfitters looking for beasts of burden for tourist groups.
They’re also fluffy and much nicer to pet.
The second thing we need to know about Ike is that he had an abscess in his mouth several years ago. The abscess never really healed right, and his mouth continues to bother him to this day. His handlers typically loosen his halter to ease Ike’s discomfort.
Ike has since used that looseness in his restraints to slip his lead and escape into Yellowstone national park on two occasions. The first time was back in August where he stayed in the park for a few weeks. The second time was at the beginning of October where he remained a llama on the lam for nearly a month.
Llamas aren’t built to survive the cold winters of North America. If Ike remained in Yellowstone after the park closes up (partially) for the winter, he’d either freeze or starve to death.
Reports of strange llama sightings kept coming in to park rangers, but they were never able to find Ike in the vast Yellowstone wilderness. That’s where Susi Huelsmeyer-Sinay of Yellowstone Llamas comes in.
Susi heard reports on October 24th of a white llama being spotted near Lewis Lake, southwest of Yellowstone Lake. She gathered her things, took a trio of her own llamas, and went out looking for Ike.
Llamas are herd animals, and a solitary llama is very sad indeed. It wants to be with a herd, so when Susi showed up at the lake and spotted Ike, he gladly trotted on over to be with the three other llamas.
“All of a sudden, there he was coming up and greeting the three llamas, who in turn greeted him,” Susi told Jackson Hole News. “These guys are herd animals. They need their own kind.”
Now safe and sound, Ike is making friends with his new herd at Yellowstone Llamas. The owner of Wilderness Ridge Trail Llamas thinks that Ike is more trouble than he’s worth, and so let Susi keep him.
Which suits Ike just fine. It’s much closer to Yellowstone for his next escape attempt.