Malta llama farm gets attention, promotes animals
MALTA A local llama farm has been in the national limelight twice in the past three days.
Dakota Ridge Farm, on 42 acres just outside Ballston Spa on East High Street, was highlighted in a New York Times story on Wednesday — a feature on the growing popularity of the exotic South American creatures as lovable pets.
The article, with a video on the Times’ website, brought the farm to the attention of ABC’s “Good Morning America.” The morning news show filmed at the farm on Thursday, and the segment was shown Friday morning.
The national attention is a bit of a surprise for Gary and Katrina Capasso. What started as one llama — a wedding present from Gary to Katrina in 1990 — has multiplied into a herd that now numbers 55 animals. That first llama, Dakota, just celebrated his 23rd birthday.
The Capassos have been ambassadors for llama love before, but this week, they took it to another level.
“It was amazing. It was fun, but I was pretty nervous,” Katrina Capasso said Friday.
The uniting theme of the two national stories: The long-necked, woolly and friendly camelids make great pets, if you have enough land.
“They were both positive things,” Capasso said.
“They’re like potato chips. You can’t have just one,” Capasso said in both the Times story and the ABC broadcast, repeating a line she must have used hundreds of times over the past two decades.
Today, there are 163,000 llamas registered in the United States — a figure llama-lovers say is growing.
About 3,700 of them live in New York state, according to the Montana-based International Llama Registry. That’s up from 3,200 a decade ago.
In their native Peru, llamas are used as pack-hauling animals and as a source of meat, but in America they’re treated more like large and friendly dogs. They can be sheared for their prized wool, though.
Katrina Capasso said The New York Times contacted her about two months ago, but she doesn’t know how the newspaper learned about their farm. A Times videographer visited last Sunday and spent half a day.
The herd includes about 20 llamas boarded for other people as well as 35 llamas the Capassos own.
The two-minute “Good Morning America” segment featured reporter Aditi Roy visiting Dakota Ridge, including scenes in which a llama is in the house, watching TV, sniffing at an open refrigerator and nuzzling.
Despite that, the Capassos note that llamas aren’t really indoor pets.
“That was kind of a joke, but we do sometimes bring them in the house,” Katrina Capasso said.
The Capassos also have two horses.