Joaquin The Pack Llama Found After Surviving 17 Days Lost In Yellowstone

After he was spooked by some Yellowstone bison during an overnight camping trip Aug. 14, a llama named Joaquin has been found safe and sound after being lost for 17 days in the national park.

AR
Andrew Rossi

August 31, 20233 min read

Joaquin, a pack llama lost in Yellowstone National Park for 17 days, is escorted back to civilization by his park ranger rescuers. The llama was spotted near Trout Lake, not far from the spot where his pack trip was encamped at the time he bolted and ran off. He had been spotted by Trout Lake once before, but visitors were not able to recover him.
Joaquin, a pack llama lost in Yellowstone National Park for 17 days, is escorted back to civilization by his park ranger rescuers. The llama was spotted near Trout Lake, not far from the spot where his pack trip was encamped at the time he bolted and ran off. He had been spotted by Trout Lake once before, but visitors were not able to recover him. (Courtesy Kathy Schmidt via Yellowstone Insiders Hub)

After 17 days lost in Yellowstone National Park, Joaquin the lost pack llama has been found, recovered and reunited with the rest of his pals at Yellowstone Llamas.

Susi Hülsmeyer-Sinay, who owns Yellowstone Llamas, had just left Yellowstone hauling a trailer back to Livingston, Montana, when reached by Cowboy State Daily on Thursday afternoon. Joaquin was inside the trailer and on his way home.

“I’m very relieved,” she said. “He’s well. I just gave him some llama cookies and we’re bringing him home to his buddies.”

Llama Lost And Found

Joaquin was part of a multi-day pack trip on the 37-mile Cache Creek Trail in Lamar Valley on Aug. 14 when several bison ran through an overnight encampment. Joaquin was spooked, pulled up his lead and ran back down the trail.

A guide attempted to catch Joaquin, but eventually the llama disappeared into the wilderness. Several search parties were launched to find him. Wolf watchers, construction crews, outfitters and wildlife tour operators were alerted and asked to keep their eyes open for the lost llama.

On Thursday morning, a park visitor spotted Joaquin near Trout Lake. Soon after, two Yellowstone rangers were able to retrieve Joaquin and lead him out of the wilderness, Susi said. The llama showed little resistance.

Susi said she hitched up her trailer and got to Yellowstone as soon as she could, and Joaquin was safely out of the park by 4 p.m.

“He was a little upset when the transfer was made. He probably experienced something. We don’t know. But he’s calmed down dramatically,” she said.

Joaquin is one of 15 llamas that work as pack animals for Yellowstone Llamas. He was last seen near Trout Lake in the Lama Valley on Aug. 16.
Joaquin is one of 15 llamas that work as pack animals for Yellowstone Llamas. He was last seen near Trout Lake in the Lama Valley on Aug. 16. (Courtesy Photo)

Survival Doesn’t Take The Lead

This is the second llama Susi has recovered from Yellowstone since she took ownership of Yellowstone Llamas.

In 2018, she rescued a llama near Lewis Lake that had been roaming the park for three months. He has been part of Susi’s llama troupe since and even had his story published in a children’s book.

Susi was not concerned about Joaquin’s ability to survive in Yellowstone. Llamas are hearty beasts, and the mountainous terrain of the Lamar Valley isn’t too different from a llama’s natural habitat in the mountains of South America.

Her primary concern was the lead Joaquin was dragging with him after his escape. If the lead were to catch on a rock or some branches, it could have prevented him from moving or getting food and water.

Joaquin also could have become an exotic meal for bears or wolves, as many assumed he would.

Thankfully, none of these unfortunate things happened. Joaquin was recovered with his lead intact, and it doesn’t appear to have caused him any trouble.

Susi said it is going to be a while before Joaquin has another adventure in Yellowstone. Yellowstone Llamas has finished its tours for the season and has no plans to return to the park this year.

“We felt we wanted to take a break, and it’s been a little bit dramatic,” she said. “We’ll wait until the bison come down. The plans are not made.”

Joaquin is terrified of bison, which is why he bolted in the first place. But his ordeal is over, and he came out of it just fine.

Now it’s time for his children’s book.

Andrew Rossi can be reached at arossi@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Andrew Rossi

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