Fernando, a cross breed Guanaco llama, turned heads at the recent Horowhenua AP&I Show in Levin as he walked around the grounds with owner Judy Webby, and he took all the sights and sounds in his strides.

"The noise from the fairground or the vintage machinery did not faze him at all," said Mrs Webby.

Judy Webby is a llama breeder who specialises in purebreds, which are rare these days, she said.

"In Peru they fear that the wild ones will be gone soon, due to loss of habitat and poaching."


She said llamas have been cross bred over the centuries with other animals like alpacas, and the purebred animals can no longer be exported out of South America.

"Even semen cannot be sold to other countries."

This means that breeding the pure-bred llama in New Zealand is no mean feat. There are only about 1500 such llamas in New Zealand. The wild guanaco is the ancestor of all llama.

"Alpacas are bred for their fleece, while llamas are the working animal. They have a fine undercoat and a rough outer coat, a bit like a deer has and the outer coat is waterproof."

She said a llama can carry up to 20 per cent of its body weight, so is used a lot as a pack animal. Judy Webby has been breeding llamas for the past decade and is the secretary of the New Zealand Llama Association and is also manages its animal registry.

She said a llama is a pet, pretty much like a dog and can be trained to do things.

"They are outdoor animals, but in colder climates a shelter would be needed. Their coat is waterproof and they have a low impact on their environment."

She said the US, where horses have been banned from national parks due to their impact on the environment, they use llamas instead.


"Their impact is of the same calibre as that of a tramper's boot."

Mrs Webby currently has 14 animals, and had seven babies born this past year.

Fernando is three years old. His dad was a Guanaco while his mum was a llama.

"He is very confident, not deterred by noise and like all llamas great with children.

Llamas have about 1.5m of personal space and they respect that space in others, including humans. I used to have sheep who tended to bowl me over at times if I stood in the gate as they were going in. A llama will not do that."

All her animals are also registered on the rare Breeds of New Zealand Conservation Society.