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190 × 135 × 14 mm
224 pages
107 Illustrations, 67 in colour
01 Aug 2017

Llama Helen Cowie

Known for their haughty demeanour, woolly charm and propensity to spit when threatened, llamas have had a rich and varied history. Since their domestication high in the Andes, they have been sacrificed, farmed, smuggled and petted. They have functioned at different times as luxury commodities, literary muses and national symbols and have served as beasts of burden, circus performers and even golf caddies.

This book charts the history of llamas and their close relatives, alpacas, guanacos and vicuñas. Venerated by the Incas, llamas are still cherished in their native Peru and Bolivia, and remain central to Andean culture. After several unsuccessful acclimatization attempts in the nineteenth century, llamas and alpacas have also become popular pets in Britain, North America and Australia, where they are used for trekking, meat and wool production and as therapy animals. Llama recounts the llama’s colourful history and explores the animals’ presence in art, literature and film.

Packed with llama drama and alpaca facts, Llama shows that there’s much more to llamas than spitting.

‘A new volume in the Animal series, Llama beautifully weaves together the anthrozoology and cultural history of four South American camelids – the domesticated llamas and alpacas and their respective wild counterparts, the guanacos and vicuñas – with their biology and evolution. From the use of camelids by indigenous peoples for wool, meat and transport to these animals’ modern-day participation as golf caddies, therapy animals and wedding-day mascots in the United States, the narrative Cowie tells is at once sweeping and studded with compelling scholarly details.’ — Times Literary Supplement

‘A superb introduction to the llama, alpaca, guanaco, and vicuña—the Andean cousins of the humped camels of the Old World. Cowie packs this pocket-sized book with entertaining anecdotes and fascinating insights into the biology, cultural history, husbandry, and economic importance of these South American mammals . . . This handsome book is lavishly illustrated, engagingly written, and thoroughly researched. It is accessible to the general reader, and it will appeal to anyone interested in finding out more about llamas and their kin, as well as to students and scholars of the history of mammal domestication.’ — Choice magazine

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Helen Cowie is Lecturer in History at the University of York. She is the author of Conquering Nature in Spain and its Empire, 1750–1850 (2011) and Exhibiting Animals in Nineteenth-century Britain: Empathy, Education, Entertainment (2014).