SCLA logo
South Central Llama Association





Llama Info

SCLA Breeders

SCLA Members

SCLA Youth

SCLA Library

SCLA Calendar

Llama Photo Contest

SCLA Raffle

Llama Tails





CC home | basic Lama care | Lama fact sheet | CC 2008 Meeting Report
press release advantages | sample press release | CC poster

Camelid Community 2008 Report

Camelid Community logo“Outline for Change”

Aug. 1-3, 2008
Radisson Hotel, Kansas City, MO
By Sheila Fugina and Barb Baker

Background and History

Camelid Community is the only national forum that offers the opportunity for dialog among representatives of national, regional and local camelid organizations as well as interested individuals and owners, providing a unique opportunity for an assessment of the “state of the union” of the camelid world. In the 1990s, the International Llama Association (now defunct) sponsored an annual Llama Assembly, the last of which was held in Colorado Springs in 1997. Representatives of a number of llama and alpaca organizations got together to host Llama & Alpaca Symposium in Kansas City in 1998, a highly successful and representative event. No group or combination of groups sponsored a similar national gathering in 1999. Feeling a need to see such a gathering held on an annual basis, several members of the Llama Association of North America tried getting it going again by hosting a Lama Community in 2000 in Kansas City. Though numbers were few at first, attendance grew as hosting and facilitating rotated among various groups and individuals. At the 2004 event the group voted to change the name to Camelid Community to better reflect the background and interest of attendees. Unlike most conferences, Camelid Community’s agenda is set by participants, and those unable to attend also are encouraged to submit proposed agenda items. Camelid Community is a “move forward and get things accomplished” group and not simply a weekend gathering to wring hands and re-hash old problems.  

Creating an Outline for Change

Recognizing that our camelid world has, indeed, changed and that we are at a critical point for action, those attending Camelid Community 2008 accepted the challenge to create an “Outline for Change” to take back to llama and alpaca organizations across the country. Participants in Camelid Community 2007 set the stage for this year’s event by identifying industry weaknesses and strengths. This year’s gathering focused on the issues the 2007 group deemed critical to our community’s success, including:
            *Though “strong local and national organizations” was listed as a strength for the camelid community as a whole, organizational conflicts and politics topped the list of threats to our community. It was felt personal agendas, the baggage of history and fear of change have helped to fuel declining memberships, a breakdown in regional organizations and a general lack of cooperation and collaboration.
            *Education was seen as vital for a variety of audiences, but the most critical need for education and accurate information seemed to be with new and potential owners, especially those having no contact with camelid organizations. The prevalence of misinformation, especially on the Internet, was seen as a major factor contributing to the need for sound education.
            *The need for more and better communication was deemed critical—between the llama and alpaca industries; between the camelid community and other livestock and companion animal industries; between the camelid community and the agricultural community in general; between the various camelid organizations; and even between organizations and their own members.

In tackling the critical issues that were identified last year, those at Camelid Community 2008 rallied around the following quote from anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Attendees were divided into two groups, one focusing on dissemination of camelid information to various audiences (education and outreach), and the other on methods of communication between organizations and industries (holding “conversations” and having dialogs between groups within the camelid community and without). After coming together and expanding on each other’s lists, the whole group came up with what they considered the most important areas to concentrate on immediately. They included:
            *Produce a simple camelid care brochure/fact sheet that can be mass produced and widely distributed.
            *Put together a camelid press packet for use by llama and alpaca organizations and owners across the country to assist in their publicity efforts.
            *Identify and compile contact information for other livestock organizations, publications and web sites; agricultural and small farm publications; and fiber publications.

The group at Camelid Community felt it is important that we as a community start taking a unified and consistent approach with our camelid information, especially with the “outside world” of new and potential owners. Other livestock and companion animal industries are way ahead of us in this regard, and we could learn from them.

Camelid Care Brochure

Two good standards of care documents have been produced by the camelid community—“Minimum Standards of Care for Llamas and Alpacas” (designed for animal control and welfare authorities) and “Recommended Practices in Caring for Llamas & Alpacas” (more detailed care and husbandry information for new and prospective owners)—both available at We as a community, however, are still missing the largest audience of all and one from which much of the need for rescue and intervention emanates.

Many llamas and alpacas are purchased at sales barns and auction houses and from petting zoos and “backyard breeders” across the country by people with no knowledge of camelid care and no connection to any camelid organization. The group felt there was an urgent need for a simple, inexpensive, basic camelid care piece that could be used by camelid organizations and individuals nationwide and that would have distribution through such outlets as sales barns, feed stores, veterinarians, shearers and the like.

The Greater Appalachian Llama and Alpaca Association (GALA) produced a similar brochure several years ago for use in their region, according to GALA representative Marc Page, and he shared copies with attendees. Camelid Community 2008 participants then created the content for a brochure that is more universal in scope and also made suggestions for use and distribution. The brochure is being finalized and will be sent to llama and alpaca organizations in the fall of 2008 along with recommendations for dissemination. It is designed to have organizations or individual farms add their contact information to it before distribution so those receiving it have a local source to go to for camelid information in addition to the national ones listed in the brochure.

Camelid Press Packet

After last year’s Camelid Community challenged groups around the country to come up with ideas for raising public awareness of camelids that didn’t involve huge expenditures of money, the Southern States Llama Association (SSLA) “accepted the challenge in a big way,” according to the report SSLA submitted to Camelid Community 2008. This year’s participants found SSLA’s press packet idea simple yet very effective and thought something similar for use by members of llama and alpaca organizations across the country would be valuable for the entire community.

The group agreed on what should be included, and a press packet is being finalized that will contain a llama and alpaca fact sheet, an informational flyer and recommendations for posting, and sample press releases for events such as farm days, shows and fiber workshops. The packet also will include ideas on how to use the various publicity pieces. The artwork on the flyer and on the basic care brochure described above will be the same, since those are the two pieces that will be seen by the general public. The press packet, like the care brochure, will be distributed to llama and alpaca organizations in the fall of 2008.

Livestock, Farm and Fiber Contacts

A list is being compiled of contact information for livestock, farm and fiber publications, web sites and outlets. One way the list will be used is to place camelid related articles in appropriate publications—a piece on using and caring for guardian llamas would be valuable for sheep and goat publications, for example, and a wide range of camelid fiber articles could be placed in various fiber magazines. The list would also be valuable for starting a dialog with other livestock and fiber industries. Shay Stratford, SSLA representative, volunteered to help compile data for the list. Send suggested publications and complete contact information to her at

Copies of the basic care brochure and the press packet agreed upon by Camelid Community 2008 attendees will be sent to llama and alpaca organizations when they are in final form. The contact list will continue to be updated and added to as it is used.

Camelid Research

Allan Dewald, MD, provided reports from the Lama Medical Research Group (LMRG), Alpaca Research Foundation (ARF) and the Morris Animal Foundation (MAF), updating Camelid Community on an exciting array of camelid research projects in various stages of completion. A highlight of the year was the First International Workshop on Camelid Genetics held in Scottsdale, Arizona, in February 2008. The workshop was co-hosted by ARF and the Alpaca Registry, Inc. (ARI) and featured Stephen O’Brien, MD, head of the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at the National Cancer Institute. The impetus for the workshop was the completion of the alpaca genome sequence in early 2008 and the availability of molecular genetic tools and resources that are being developed at laboratories around the world.

LMRG’s purpose is to review research proposals that are presented to MAF’s Llama/Alpaca Division for funding. The camelid industry is provided the opportunity through LMRG to have input on these proposals as far as project applicability and affordability. MAF’s Scientific Advisory Board evaluates the proposals for scientific methodology and merit and is receptive to LMRG input provided during the annual evaluation process.

ARF’s mission is to encourage and support scientific research that benefits the North American alpaca industry, primarily in the areas of alpaca health and husbandry, genetics and fiber. Reports from all three research groups, along with other reports submitted to Camelid Community 2008, are available on the web site for the International Camelid Institute (ICI) at as part of Camelid Community’s overall report.

Registries/Show Associations

Darby Vannier, executive director of ARI, reported that alpaca registrations are showing a bit of growth, while transfers are flat. For most owners, alpacas are not their primary source of income, he said, with the average farm having from seven to 10 alpacas. He also provided copies of ARI’s recently completed strategic plan, which is included with Camelid Community’s final report.

The Alpaca Owners & Breeders Association (AOBA) was represented by Gordon Anderson, executive director, who reported that AOBA’s show system is very active and growing. Though the show system on the animal side is “way up this year”, he said the fleece side of the show system is “struggling”. AOBA is working on a strategic plan, and right now much effort is being focused on the World Alpaca Conference and AOBA National Conference scheduled for June 3-7, 2009, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Cheryl Ryberg, executive director of the Alpaca & Llama Show Association (ALSA), said the animal and fleece sides of ALSA’s show system are just the opposite of ALSA’s this year. Attendance at llama shows has been light across the country, while the fleece side of the show system is “really coming into its own”.

International Camelid Institute

The web site for the International Camelid Institute (ICI) has undergone a number of changes since Camelid Community 2007 in order to make it more user-friendly and useful. The area of the site that is visited most is the Consult Corner, and a number of new veterinarians have been added. The goal is to have at least two consultants available in each of the named categories so there will always be a consultant available to answer any question received within 24 hours of receipt. The most recent addition to the site is the Vets Only Forum, a password-protected area available to veterinarians for discussion of camelid health and welfare topics out of sight of the general public. A new internal search engine has been added that is capable of searching 1,000 pages on ICI’s site as well as the sites of any of ICI’s links.


Since last year’s Camelid Community, the National Lama Intervention & Rescue Coordination Council (IRC Council) produced its first educational package, “Educational Plan for Animal Control Authorities”, which was distributed to camelid organizations at the beginning of 2008. The plan contains suggested materials to reproduce for animal control and animal welfare officials as well as recommendations on reaching them with specific training sessions. Additional modules are planned, and the council determined new and prospective owners were the next audience in greatest need of camelid information, especially those not in contact with local camelid associations. Now that Camelid Community has created a basic care brochure to reach that same audience, the council plans to work with Camelid Community on a plan to distribute and utilize that brochure and other camelid care information.

As the result of a suggestion at Camelid Community 2007, Halter Donation Stations were set up at alpaca and llama shows, conferences and other gatherings across the country to gather new and slightly used halters and leads for use in camelid rescue efforts. To date more than 500 pieces of llama and alpaca tack have been collected and forwarded to groups and individuals most in need. Many were utilized this year in regions affected by wildfires and floods, and others remain with the council’s regional coordinators for use in future rescue situations. Donation stations continue to be set up at camelid events, and the greatest need currently is for halters in larger sizes.

Reports Submitted at Camelid Community 2008

Reports and documents submitted at Camelid Community 2008 are available on ICI’s web site at, as is this overall summary and report. Reports include:
“Report to Camelid Community 2008 from the LMRG”
“Alpaca Research Foundation (ARF) Report for Camelid Community 2008”
“Morris Animal Foundation 2008-2009 Approved Llama/Alpaca Studies”
“Alpaca Registry, Inc. Strategic Plan 2008-2010”
“Annual Report 2008—Alpaca Owners & Breeders Association” (excerpts)
“International Camelid Institute: New Look—New Services”
“IRC Council Report to Camelid Community 2008”
“Update on the National Animal Identification System”
“Southern States Llama Association 2008 Camelid Community Report”

Camelid Community 2009

Work already has begun on Camelid Community 2009, which is set for July 31-Aug. 2, 2009, at the Radisson Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri. For information on how you or your organization can be involved, contact Sheila Fugina (, 715-246-5837) or Barb Baker (, 740-397-1736).                                 SCLA is a 501(c)(5) Non-Profit Organization                     Web Designer: Sharon Bramblett
Updated: Sun 21-Dec-2008 16:21
           ©2009 South Central Llama Association