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Famous 'drama llamas' make final public appearance

Best of the WebBy Neil Fetherston
The llamas on the run
The llamas on the run

The llamas that became an instant internet sensation when they escaped their home in Sun City Arizona last month have made their final public appearance.

So many people wanted to meet the two llamas who were chased all over town that their owners set up a special appearance for locals.

Fans got to meet the llamas at the camel and ostrich racing event where they marvelled at the two creatures whose televised escape made them overnight stars.

Owners Bub Bullis and Karen Freund began raising llamas nine years ago and 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 after they got in trouble with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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 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."