The llama is a long-necked mammal with thick fur and a stubby tail. Its face resembles that of a camel, with a rounded muzzle and a split upper lip. A llama’s wool can come in a variety of colors including gray, beige, brown, and red, and can be patterned or a uniform color.
Llamas stand 3-4 feet (0.9-1.2 m) tall at the shoulders and 5-6 feet (1.5-1.8 m) tall at the head. Adults weigh between 250 and 450 pounds (113.4-204.1 kg). Females are generally smaller and weigh less than males.
Cosley Zoo’s llamas are fed hay and a commercial llama chow.
A female llama can begin to breed when she is one year old. The gestation period is 350 days. She can have up to one baby (called a “cria”) per year until she is about 15 years old. Llamas can be bred at any time of the year. They are induced ovulators, which means they ovulate 24-36 hours after breeding. The cria weighs 18 to 33 pounds (8.2-15.0 kg) when it is born and can stand up within one hour. Crias are nursed by their mothers for six months before they are weaned.
The llamas at Cosley Zoo have an outside yard they inhabit during the day, where they get fresh air and exercise. They also have a stall in the barn which opens into another outdoor yard.
Llamas can live up to 20 years, with an average life expectancy of 15 years.
In the mountains of Peru, where they were domesticated, llamas have a variety of uses. As pack animals, llamas can carry 25-30% of their body weight. Llamas can also be a food source, providing their owners with meat and milk. Llama wool is used for weaving clothes and rope, the skin for leather, the fat for making candles, and the dried excrement for fuel. Llamas raised commercially in the United States today are raised for companion animals, shows, wool, and fertilizer. They also can serve as livestock guardians, protecting sheep, goats, and other animals from predators.