Caesar ‘the no drama llama’ is helping keep the peace at the Portland protests
Caesar “the no drama llama” has attended more than 50 protests in his life.
Alex Milan Tracy/SIPA USA/Reuters
Caesar McCool, “the no drama llama” is keeping the peace at the Portland protests.
The well-known llama tends to diffuse situations, and people enjoy being in his company, his owner told Insider.
Once a champion, the animal now works as a therapy llama and “llamactivist.”
Portland has been a site for anti-racism protests since May.
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When things get hot, look no further than Caesar “the no drama llama” McCool.
Caesar, a retired 6-year-old grand champion show llama turned “llamactivist,” has been providing therapy services — and llama love — at the Portland protests over the last few months.
Since May, people have gathered nightly in the city calling for an end to racism, motivated in part by the May 25 killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Caesar’s owner, Larry McCool, told Insider that the llama’s emotional support hugs — one of its greatest talents — has brought peace in tense times.
“We can be right in the middle of 10,000 people and everyone is up and chanting, and marching, with megaphones and the whole thing,” McCool said. “All of a sudden Caesar will show up right in the middle and you can feel this calm come through.”
Caesar, who stands at 5 feet, 8 inches tall, is the most famous of the dozens of llamas who live with McCool on Mystic Llama Farm in Jefferson, Oregon, nearly 65 miles southwest of Portland.
The llama has attended more than 50 marches in its life for a variety of civil and environmental causes.
This year, the llama has attended 10 Black Lives Matter protests, half of them in Portland. The 350-pound llama is also a regular visitor to nursing homes and local schools, McCool said.
When Larry McCool takes the llama to marches, though, he’s especially careful about its safety, he told Insider.
When tear gas is going off, they get out of the way, he said.
“Sometimes we can hear the flash bombs going off or see the tear gas, but we make sure we’re out of the way before it’s dangerous,” he said.
Protestors line up to pet the llama or take photos. Some police officers working the protests have done the same.
He’s even been invited on platforms to stand with the speakers at the Portland protests.
Caesar wants hugs back
McCool said he doesn’t want Caesar to interfere with the message of the Black Lives Matter protests they attend, and said he’s not showing up to promote himself or his farm.
The goal is for Caesar to bring whatever bit of happiness he can to difficult times.
Unlike other llamas that might prefer to be off on their own, Caesar is uniquely friendly toward humans, McCool said.
“Llamas are kind of a standoffish animal. None of mine our mean, but none have the temperament or patience of Caesar,” McCool said. “He’ll walk right up to someone and stand right beside them. He actually hugs back.”
McCool has been attending civil protests since the 1970s and started owning llamas around 24 years ago.
Caesar stole the spotlight around a year ago when he and McCool were traveling to Comic-Con in Portland and were spotted on a local train. Images of his trip went viral.
Since then, McCool said he has earned international recognition.
If the local celebrity is spotted in public, people will flock to the pair.
“I’ve had people just stand there for 20-30-seconds, a minute even, just with their arms wrapped around him, with tears, and say ‘man did I need that today,’ McCool said. “Maybe they’re going to have a better day because of a llama hug. Who would have thought a llama could bring this much joy?”
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