‘Llamapalooza’ offers students opportunity to de-stress before finals

Aura Barrera/Staff

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In an ongoing campus tradition, the ASUC Office of the Academic Affairs Vice President, or AAVP, brought seven llamas to Memorial Glade for an event called “Llamapalooza” Thursday afternoon to help students de-stress as they prepare for their fall semester finals.

The AAVP’s office first held Llamapalooza in spring 2018 when it brought six llamas and an obstacle course to Memorial Glade, an increase from the three llamas it had brought in previous semesters.

The llamaswhich are “raised and treated incredibly well,” according to the Facebook event for Llamapalooza — took a road trip to campus from a ranch in Sonora, Calif. The ranch and its team, Llamas of Circle Home, provide “Animal Assisted Activities” and have partnered with campus organizers for past events as well.

UC Berkeley alumna Ana Claire Mancia started the event and trained a “llama coordinator successor” to take over for her after her graduation, according to AAVP Aastha Jha, who added that Llamapalooza has become a successful tradition partly because of Mancia’s “great coordination.”

“There is an element of bizarreness to the fact that you can walk outside the library and pet a llama,” Jha said in an email. “In times of high stress it becomes a fun light hearted way to take your mind off of academics.”

Jha added that the “friendly and gentle” animals tend to ease tensions among students and that events like Llamapalooza remind them that the AAVP office supports their wellness.

Campus sophomores Abhinav Singh and Naveen Bahadur said they decided to take the long way to their electrical engineering class to view the llamas Thursday after remembering seeing them on campus last year.

“I thought it was a one-time thing until (Bahadur) told me they were here again,” Singh said. “It’s like a stress reliever, I guess, during end-of-semester finals season. So, I think that’s kind of cool and it’s a unique thing.”

Campus freshman Sherien Maroufkhani said she was late to her discussion section in order to swing by Memorial Glade to see and pet the llamas for the first time. In addition to petting about three of the seven llamas present, she said she tried to take a selfie with one.

Maroufkhani added that unlike dogs, the exotic quality of llamas draws people to them when the animals are on campus. In addition, she said their fluffy fur entices people to pet them, which can be “soothing” and “therapeutic.”

“During finals season, we’re always just thinking about all the work we have to do,” Singh said. “So, to take our mind off that, even for like a couple minutes just ’cause there’s llamas. … It’s kind of nice just to have our mind off of the stress.”

Rachel Barber is the lead student life reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @rachelbarber_.