Llewis the llama is back at home with Todd and Lluka, making the trio of travelling llamas whole once again.
Llewis, Lluka and Todd escaped their enclosure on a farm on the 21st Sideroad in The Blue Mountains on Nov. 10 when a gate was left open by accident.
Lluka and Todd were captured and returned home by professional livestock wranglers and volunteers on Nov. 16 but Llewis evaded capture until this morning (Nov. 20). His evasive manoeuvres have included, but were not limited to, army crawling under a catch pen.
"He has proven himself to be a smart llama," said Samantha McKay, the owner of the three llamas.
The search and rescue volunteers spent the weekend looking for signs of Llewis, but couldn't find much, and he didn't seem to be leaving any tracks.
"We were kind of all over the area but there was nothing concrete," said McKay in a phone interview with CollingwoodToday on Nov. 20.
Several people messaged McKay to let her know a llama was found wandering along the side Highway 400 near Barrie and was corralled by OPP officers from the Aurora detachment.
"I thought, that's 70 kilometres away ... I don't think my llama went that far," said McKay. But she called OPP anyway.
Turns out there's a llama farm near Barrie and one of their animals escaped and was trying to merge illegally. Apparently, Llewis' wanderlust is spreading.
Though the Highway 400 llama wasn't McKay's, the OPP did help her find her llama.
On Sunday evening, Nov. 19, McKay got a call from an OPP officer who told her someone spotted her llama casually walking along the Tenth Line in The Blue Mountains.
"He said Llewis just came out and was walking along the side of the road calmly," said McKay.
The llama arrived at one of the Botden apple orchards, which are fenced around the perimeter with tall, metal fencing, and walked right through the open gate at the lane to enjoy some of the orchard grass.
McKay met the OPP officer at the orchard and they asked the owner for permission to close the gate, effectively penning Llewis into the orchard. The llama was unbothered by the move, and McKay found his tracks all over the orchard the next day.
"He was just trotting along like, 'this is a good place to be,' with not a care in the world," said McKay.
The fence held Llewis in and McKay called in her hired livestock wranglers (also known as professional cowboys) to catch Llewis in the orchard.
The llama, whom McKay considers the brains of the trio, made it difficult, running from one end of the orchard to the other to evade the wranglers on horseback.
They trapped the llama in a corner and placed a rope around his neck to get him onto the transport trailer and home to the other two llamas and a warm stall with hay and fresh water.
"Llewis put up quite a fight, he did not want to be captured," said McKay.
Back at the barn, the former fugitive greeted Todd and Lluka individually with a "kiss" and walked into his stall.
The professional wranglers helped bring Lluka and Todd home on Nov. 16 by corralling them into a catch pen and driving them into a trailer, but Llewis escaped them then. That was his army-crawl moment.
All told, Lluka and Todd's adventure lasted six days, and Llewis stayed on the lam for 10 days.
The vet is coming tomorrow to give the llamas a check, but McKay said they appear to be doing well and are calm.
"Llewis smells like a nasty swamp monster right now," she added. "But he survived, and he's a sneaky llama."
McKay expressed her gratitude for the team of volunteers that helped her search for her pets for the last 10 days, including a search coordinator, tracker team and drone team. She also paid professionals to assist with the search and rescue effort.
"I want to thank the amazing community for your love and support during this time, I couldn't have done it without you all," she said.
She has been away from work since her llamas went missing and spending her days looking for them. She is feeling a lot of relief to have all three in their stalls at the barn again.
"I'm very happy," she said, noting she's considering some changes to their enclosure.
"Now that I know what Llewis is capable of, I'm going to have to reinforce my fencing, he could have easily gotten out of the pasture, but he never wanted to," said McKay.
Llewis came from a big ranch in Alberta, the other two were at smaller properties before McKay purchased them.
"Lluka and Todd are pets," said McKay. "But I think Llewis needs more than that, and I hope I can provide them that."
She said she might need to find her brainy llama a job.