By Sharon Kurtz | Photos by Sharon Kurtz~
Everyone loves llamas. They’re are among the most adorable animals on earth.
You can get llama cookies, llama coffee cups, llama pillows, even llama pajamas… but this North Texas animal farm gives you something even better: The opportunity to interact with llamas up close! Shangri-Llama Animal Farm offers people of all age’s llama drama of the best kind.
Going for a Walk
ShangriLlama’s 10-acre property in Royce City is a llama wonderland. Guests can enjoy a scenic outing with six friendly llamas and a guide on a trail through the woods. Part of the fun is getting to handle and walk each llama. And you will absolutely love their names, including Dalai Llama, Como T. Llama, and Bahama Llama.
Llamas are cold-weather animals, so they remain indoors during much of the summer — just like most Texans. The llamas grow wool and have a double coat, making summer heat uncomfortable. No Prob-Llama!
In the warmer months, llamas and guests alike enjoy their time together in a climate-controlled castle barn. There, wranglers teach guests all of the fun facts about llamas as the entire pack of polite, pedigreed animals interact with visitors.
Llamas aren’t traditional pets. But sometimes, llama ownership arises from a case of love at first sight.
Tommy Bucano first fell in love with llamas on a zoo visit as a youngster. His mother, Sharon (who also goes by “Mamma Llama”) found a mentor in their Southern California area to teach young Tommy how to walk and care for llamas.
Soon, the entire family was smitten. They put together a plan to get a pack of their own.
Now, after a 12-year journey none of them could have imagined, the Bucanos are here in North Texas, just waiting for you to visit.
Why are we so enamored with llamas?
I asked Sharon what she thought was so attractive about her llamas.
“They are funny-looking but mystical-looking,” she said. “That’s why I think people like them. They are both regal and goofy.”
She continued: “They walk with this lilt in their step, seeming to float through space.
They give you these comical looks like they are having a bad hair day… and it’s hilarious. They definitely have an attitude.
Each one has a different personality or temperament than the next. It’s not like a llama is a llama — they are very distinct [from each other] —and that’s part of the fun.”
Is there a favorite llama?
“Yes,” Sharon said. “It’s Como T. Llama, in part because of his funny name.
He looks like a stuffed animal. He is brown and cream and has spots like an Appaloosa horse, kind of a silly, goofy face, and a wacky demeanor. People fall in love with him.”
The next-favorite llama? “Probably the Dalai Llama because he looks so bizarre,” Sharon said.
“He is enormous, six feet tall, pure white with big-blue bulging eyes. He is the pack leader, always wanting to show off for guests, to prove he’s in charge.”
Who are your typical guests at ShangriLlama?
Families, teenagers, and seniors all visit ShangriLlama. The farm often has visitors from other states, and it’s not unusual for people to drive an hour or more to visit.
“My favorite guest are the seniors,” Sharon said. “They have lived long enough to know a lot about a lot of things, and here is something they don’t know anything about. They just eat it up. We get the best questions from them. That is so rewarding, to educate and entertain. It is so fun for them. Who doesn’t want to smile and look at an odd animal and learn about them?”
When you go…
The llama walks operate from November to May on weekends by advanced reservation. The cost is $50 per person, for ages eight and up. During the warmer months, llama lessons are offered in the climate-controlled castle barn at $20 per person for ages four and up.
ShangriLlama complies with best health practices by spacing guests six feet apart, requiring face masks, and providing hand sanitizer.