'Heartless' poachers condemned for shooting dead rescued llama at animal sanctuary

Poachers who shot dead a llama at an animal sanctuary have caused public outrage, police said.

Larry the llama was killed at the Hilltop Farm Animal Sanctuary near Longhorsley, Northumberland, last week.

Northumbria Police said poachers were suspected of entering the farm overnight before shooting the animal and fleeing the area.

His body was discovered the next morning in a field which he shared with a flock of alpacas and other animals.

A police investigation has been launched and poachers have been warned against carrying out illegal hunting.

Sergeant Mick Aspey said: 'This heartless shooting has understandably led to outrage in the community and on social media.

'Larry had been at the sanctuary for five years and was a loving, harmless animal that has been gunned down by suspected poachers.

'It has been reported to us that those responsible may have mistaken Larry for a deer but even so it is illegal to hunt animals in this way.

'We know that poaching can be a problem in our rural communities and I want to reassure people that we take it seriously.

'It is a criminal offence and, where possible, we will always look to identify offenders and put them before the courts.'

Although originating in South America, there are now thought to be some 4,000 llamas in the UK.

Private ownership in the UK grew in the 1970s, according to the British Llama Society though they are thought to have first arrived in Victorian era when they were a major attraction in the zoos.

Most are kept for recreation purposes, though some people breed and sell llamas.

Larry was kept with other animals and llamas are considered to be excellent companion animals, say experts.

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