You may have been recently strolling around downtown Corvallis, and wondered, what is that huge, fluffy figure in the distance? Possibly you read a particularly interesting article from The Oregonian about a llama on the Portland MAX train or have stumbled across the words “No Drama Llama” while scrolling through Corvallis community pages. Weird experiences such as these are expected in Corvallis, but they are not random encounters meant only to draw attention from passersby. Rather, they are instances of a new form of activism – one in which social justice meets a man and his beloved llama.
The dynamic duo, who have gained popularity among locals, is Larry McCool and his llama, Caesar the No Drama Llama – an example of how the beautiful relationships between humans and their animals can be utilized for a larger purpose.
McCool, a retiree who resides in Jefferson, Oregon, owns 21 llamas, has a business in llama hair products, and makes furniture in his free time. His llama, and arguably one of his best friends, Caesar, is four and a half years old and already has an activism career. McCool and Caesar are a powerful pair, committed to advocacy and the betterment of society. But how did an animal become an activist (or rather, a llamactivist)?
Caesar’s story begins two and a half years ago, when his owner noticed his unique temperament. Llamas are not mean unless you give them a reason to be and are safe to be around; however, they are commonly standoffish towards humans. Caesar in contrast, is a calm, friendly, and even cuddly animal when around people. His personality is what led McCool to start walking Caesar around downtown Salem, Albany, and Corvallis to test his response to other people.
“I noticed that he reacted to people extremely well,” McCool explained. “He’s never been taught to do anything. Anything you see Caesar do, is exactly what he does naturally.”
After noticing Caesar’s special personality, McCool decided to put his positive nature to use, bringing him to political events in Portland, Salem, Albany, and Corvallis. In addition, Caesar acts as a therapy animal at various organizations, including schools and nursing homes.
Caesar’s love and curiosity for humans is a unique attribute that is perfect for activism work. When McCool brings Caesar to events, people are instantly enamored by the llama and want to learn more about the pair’s purpose. McCool’s own enthusiasm paired with Caesar’s sweet nature, is a special and effective advertisement for advocacy of a wide range of issues – including women’s rights, foster care children, and cancer survivors.
McCool commented, “[Caesar] can be a voice for the ones who don’t have a voice . . . especially in our society right now.”
Other than this unorthodox form of activism, the most inspiring part of McCool and Caesar’s story is their relationship. Bystanders instantly notice how much the pair cares for each other. McCool feeds, cleans, and gives Caesar the opportunity to advocate. In return, this special llama constantly shows him affection and happily marches, protests, and stands up alongside other activists. To one passerby, McCool said, “If you’re having the worst day of your life, and you get to hug a llama, that is the greatest thing there is. And I get to do it every day.”
In a time period where we are constantly downtrodden by recurring horrific events, McCool and Caesar are reminders that there is still good in the world.
However, their special presence at events doesn’t take away from the problems at hand; in fact, they are individuals who stand alongside us and use their optimism to help solve the many impending issues we are facing. As our Earth is perishing, as children around the world are dying, as our own president is quickly halting any ideas of fairness or equality, McCool and Caesar are two more Americans committed to the fight.
In particularly difficult times, we need more than the typical activist. We need to feel alive – and nothing makes people perk up more during a march, protest, or any social justice event, than a man and his llama. The two of them are more than just a man and a llama – they are a positive light through the alarming negativity of the current social and political climate. McCool and Caesar’s unconventional presence paired with their passion for activism can help us feel powerful in times where we would otherwise feel weak and silenced.
McCool and Caesar will attend almost any event for free, as long as donations are being made to an organization during the occasion. Caesar is safe for all ages, adorable, and a mood booster for any event, and McCool is willing to talk to anyone about their story.
Follow them on Instagram @caesarthenodramallama or view their adventures on their Facebook page, Caesar The No Drama Llama.
By Cara Nixon