Rojo the Llama
April 26th, 2002 – November 6th, 2019
From the day he was born, Rojo enjoyed being around people of all ages. His handler, Shannon Joy, trained Rojo through the support of her Llama 4-H club, finally achieving Grand Champion awards with him at the local and state levels in the Public Relations and Handler Class events. While he was at the fair, a spectator observed Rojo’s exceptionally gentle temperament, and suggested that he become certified as a therapy animal, so he could benefit the lives of others. In July of 2007, Shannon alongside her mother, Lori Gregory, completed the Animal-Assisted Therapy Training through DoveLewis Animal Hospital in Portland, OR, and separately took Rojo through the final evaluation to become the first llama therapy teams certified by DoveLewis.
Throughout his life, Rojo made hundreds of visits to local area children’s hospitals, senior communities, schools, and facilities for children and adults with disabilities, along with other various PR and fund raising events. Rojo held the overall record to be the #1 “Beyond the Showring” PR llama in the world, according to the International Llama Registry, of nearly 200,000 llamas that are registered for several years! The responses and the love that was expressed for him wherever he went was contagious and filled Shannon and Lori with purpose and excitement for this unique gift Rojo offered the world: unconditional llove and whimsical joy.
Sadly, in the fall of 2019, just days after his planned retirement, Rojo began to show signs of illness. On November 6th, 2019, Rojo passed away due to uncertain health issues. As llamas are a prey animal, it was a gift Rojo showed any signs of health decline at all. Many llamas simply pass away in the middle of the night, too proud to show any sign of weakness as it jeopardizes their status in their herd, or to be seen as easy prey for predators. You can read all about his final days and what will happen next in this wonderful article by the Columbian.