Magazine article The Spectator

My Middle-Aged Llama Knapp Turned into a Sex Pest. Something Had to Be Done

Magazine article The Spectator

My Middle-Aged Llama Knapp Turned into a Sex Pest. Something Had to Be Done

Article excerpt

An event has occurred which is not necessarily to my llama, Knapp's, advantage. The tale, though it falls short of tragedy, is melancholy to relate.

Knapp, now approaching what are, from a camelid time-perspective, his middle years (he's about 11) has always done what he's supposed to do well. Almost too well. He's a stud. He comes from a fashionable llama ranch in the home counties. His uncle has featured in a fashion advertisement in The Spectator, being led through the streets of Notting Hill. His own portrait, standing proudly beside his rather crumpled-looking owner, has appeared in Country Life.

He's big, for a llama: strongly built, with a coat that is long, thick and creamy-white, touched with the occasional caramel streak.

His eyelashes are as luxuriant and fetching as Andy Burnham's. He carries himself with an air of Monarch of the Glen; his head and physiognomy are of a noble aspect.

Undoubtedly Knapp possesses the kingly qualities.

And, perhaps because of his relaxed air of command, this llama is exceptionally good natured. You never see him flatten his ears back - a sign of affront or ill-humour in llamas. He has never once spat; and he is easy to catch and lead, and unafraid of human touch. He resents, it is true, his scarlet headcollar, and tries to pull it off - but I like that in him: I wouldn't care for a head-collar either.

And Knapp's behaviour towards his wives is (in every respect but one) unfailingly chivalrous. He lets them dip their snouts into the corn bucket first, and when they spit at him to keep him away from food, he withdraws with dignity, and stands a little way off while they feed. He never takes food from his children.

Nor does he hang about or boss llama mothers and their offspring around. Knapp's habit is to graze some 50 yards away from the women and children - but always keeping them within sight. While maintaining his distance he has an eye out for their safety at all times. On occasions when we've put him in a separate field he reacts with pain and agitation, stations himself at the point in the fence from which he can see them best, and stares across at them all day, vexed that he cannot be on hand to guard them. He is never happy until reunited, though the wives show little pleasure when he does come back.

I hinted, however, at a fly in the ointment.

Sex. A breeding male, Knapp has embraced this role with an excess of zeal. Frankly, he has been a bit of a sex pest, and inclined (as we say in the North Midlands) to bother his wife, or wives. When (and only when) love is in the air, he becomes aggressive, even dangerous. And with him, love is often in the air.

A short lesson in camelid sex. It happens lying down. But the lady does not wish (or appear to wish) to lie down. The gentleman therefore has to knock her down, which he does by chasing her around the field until, cornered, she is pushed to her knees as he throws his whole weight upon her. Once flattened, she submits, and he lies down on top of her.

Then the grunting, and growling, and tooth-grinding, and gasping starts - all on the male's part. It goes on for about half an hour - or it does with Knapp. His stamina surpasses many of us human males. But the lady shows little sign of liking any of this, and stays very still and silent, her eyes fixed on the heavens with a sort of 'Oh do get on with it' expression. …

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