Runaway llamas forced into retirement after escape that went viral

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Runaway Llamas Forced Into Retirement
The llamas that became a social media sensation running around a Phoenix-area retirement enclave last month are saying goodbye to the spotlight with one last event Saturday.

Kahkneeta (kah-NEE'-tah) and Laney, whose televised dash mesmerized the Internet and Sun City residents, will likely be making their final public appearance at a Phoenix race track, according to owners Bub Bullis and Karen Freund.

The llama drama that spawned jokes and Twitter hashtags also got the attention of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Freund said.

LLAMA DRAMA Tweets - social media reaction - llamas on the loose in Arizona
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Runaway llamas forced into retirement after escape that went viral
The Llamazing Race
It's not just a #llamachase, it's a *high speed* llama chase in AZ.
Wow. We're famous. #LlamasonTheLoose
And with the first pick in the draft, the @TBBuccaneers pick the white llama.
Pretty sure @melissamccarthy is to blame. #llamas
Seriously the city of Phoenix appears to have no plan whatsoever for catching these llamas
Yes, we're watching the llamas on the loose in #Arizona! #llamachase @KRTV
This is why productivity in America dropped to zero today: #Llamas
Situation is gettin' outta control... #llamas #llamadrama
Your 15 minutes are up, Left Shark. #LLAMAS
.@BMarshh54 wouldn’t have had any trouble with those tricksters. #LlamaChase
The #AZCardinals have agreed to one-year deals with the #llamasontheloose. Each llama will earn 2,340 lbs of hay. Steve Keim does it again.
Can you please do split screen so I can see BOTH #llamas?
The llamas are back together! No llama left behind
Best part of #LlamaChase is that @CNN is covering it like a car chase. "These llamas seem to be outsmarting all the humans!"
#llamasontheloose @CBSNLive: Arizona llamas flagrantly disregard rules of the road
What is your endgame, llamas? WHEN WILL THIS BE OVER??
"Dude, where's my car?"
But first llama take a selfie
Three dudes in a pick-up truck save Arizona from the alpaca-lypse -
Nation stops to cheer on llamas on the run from police in Arizona
Thanks Ollama.
Llama Del Rey
Can't wait for all the llama-and-lasso-person couples Halloween costumes this October
Thelma & Louise, llama-style.
Llama life advice: h/t @mhess4
I go and do actual work for 8 minutes and I miss #llamachase? Lesson learned, never log off Twitter. Ever
Live with the white llama in custody.
#Llamas on the loose in #Arizona? This just happened, and it appears they've been captured.
The #llamas have been captured. Reporting from Arizona, for CNN, this is Al Paca.
@julianbarnes Llama had no known connections to ISIS. Appears to have self-radicalized.
Where were you during #llamachase2k15?
#Llamas I don’t usually tweet during the day. Just trying to fit in.
♪ I will remember you, will you remember me? ♪

"If this opens up a can of worms where everybody across the country gets shut down doing this, that's really unfair," Freund said. "That's really a horrible thing to do to people who benefit from them."

A USDA official contacted them shortly after the Feb. 26 incident, saying they needed a license to showcase their llamas or even allow people to snap photos of them, the couple said. Neither was aware of such a policy. The husband and wife, who are both retired Phoenix police officers, had planned to continue offering the llamas for therapy and educational purposes.

"They just totally destroyed everything I had planned for my retirement," Freund said. "We've taken them to schools before. Now they're telling me I can't do anything, even like a photo shoot."

Freund said she is frustrated because the USDA won't respond to any of her follow-up calls about the matter because everything has to be in writing. So they are giving up for now.

USDA national and state offices did not immediately return messages Friday seeking comment.

The couple began raising llamas nine years ago. They currently care for nine.

Most of their llamas are used to being around people at parades and other events. Bullis said he's still not sure what spooked Kahkneeta, a 4-year-old white llama, to run off while visiting a senior living facility in Sun City.

"We figured she would come back. That was a lesson learned. I couldn't believe she didn't come back," Bullis said.

Laney, a 1-year-old black llama, then got loose and followed Kahkneeta. What unfolded over the next few hours has become the stuff of social media legend. Twitter exploded with reactions to the live broadcast of the fugitive llamas. Trending hashtags included #LlamasOnTheLoose and #TEAMLLAMAS. Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain and the Arizona Cardinals even got in on the tweets. The football team tweeted salary offers in hay, which the couple is still hoping to collect.

Since then, Bullis and Freund said things have quieted down except for more requests for llamas at small city events. The couple said they are only at Turf Paradise this weekend because that was scheduled before the great llama escape. Next month, they and the llamas will be moving about 100 miles north of Phoenix to Chino Valley.

"They will just be on the farm and if somebody drives by and takes a picture, I guess I'll get a fine," Freund said.


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