SUMTER, S.C. — A furry friend with a big smile paid a visit to locals in downtown Sumter this weekend.
His name is River, and he's a llama with a big personality, according to his caretaker Margie Johnson.
"He's really a clown as you can see," she laughed, as River nestled his head on her shoulder. "Since we were out and about, we thought 'well, we'll stop by and go to Sumter Original Brewery.'"
River took a few photos with guests and enjoyed the view.
Years prior, he had only just arrived to the county as a rescue from Charleston.
"Not a bad situation. It was just people that knew, 'Hey, I can't take care of him,'" Johnson said. "They couldn't find a llama vet down there and they had no mentorship, so they asked if they could surrender him to us."
Johnson is the South Carolina coordinator for the Southeast Llama Rescue, which provides homes for llamas and alpacas in need.
“We evaluate them; we vet them, and then we find the perfect home for them,” Johnson said.
She and River attend events and visit town to teach others about llamas.
"I want them to know that these are nice animals and what they are," Johnson said. "I want them to know how to take care of them.”
While Johnson says there aren't as many llamas in South Carolina as other places, one thing remains the same - the joy they can bring to a loving home.
"I just can’t believe that I would ever have a llama," Johnson said. "If you would have told me years ago I would, I would’ve told you, ‘no, you’re crazy,’ but they’ll steal your heart.”