Thursday, June 13

USDA Regulations Force Llamas of Social Media Fame Into Early Retirement

The most famous llamas in recent memory are ultimately being retired from public life — much to their owners’ disappointment. Last month, the llamas created a social media frenzy after escaping and running around an Arizona neighborhood, but USDA regulations dictate that they cannot be shown in public without the proper licensing.

Before the event, the llamas were routinely used for therapy and educational purposes and were brought to schools, events, and elderly living homes. After the escape debacle, the USDA approached the llamas’ owners, Bub Bullis and Karen Freund, and informed them that they would need a license to show them.

The owners aren’t happy about the decision.

“If this opens up a can of worms where everybody across the country gets shut down doing this, that’s really unfair,” Freund told Fox News. “That’s really a horrible thing to do to people who benefit from them.”

The USDA regulates things like these to ensure the welfare of the animals, but the escape stunt could have been very dangerous — the llamas were weaving in and out of traffic.

“[The USDA] just totally destroyed everything I had planned for my retirement,” Freund said. “We’ve taken them to schools before. Now they’re telling me I can’t do anything, even like a photo shoot.”

Though social media attention can be gratifying — and in this case lucrative — it can be dangerous and detrimental. Social media has, in many ways, become more important to people than physical connections. According to Mashable, a new study has found that chasing a good social media post can actually be bad for us.

There are about 27 million pieces of content shared online each day. In the case of the llamas, they were popular and they may have made their owners a lot of money, but free roaming llamas can become a public safety issue and can put the animals’ welfare at risk.

The study, which was conducted by Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield, surveyed 1,623 people. The most startling finding, perhaps, is that 14% of respondents said they would risk their own safety for a better social media post. Additionally, more than half of people said that posting the perfect picture has kept them from enjoying life experiences.

The study’s authors say that likes are a low effort way to get social validation, and the validation that people do get isn’t as satisfying as natural interactions.

Though social media can serve as a good outlet for sharing experiences, connecting with others, and joining a massive discussion about llamas on the lam, it should be used with care.

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