No. 27. The Llama.

Llamas are members of the camel family, but they never visit for the holidays and seldom write home. They inhabit the Andes, where they teach Buddhist philosophy to anybody who will listen. To the llama, the highest degree of enlightenment is nirvana, or nothingness, which is the greatest blessing a llama can imagine for himself. This tells us something about what it is like to be a llama, and suggests that you would rather see than be one.

Llamas are social creatures, forming herds known as monasteries in which they attempt to reach enlightenment by spitting at each other. They are copious producers of wool, which they weave into prayer rugs that they sell at street markets in Cuzco.

The llama should not be confused with the lama (see illustration), a holy man of Tibet who carries small burdens in packs up and down the precipitous trails of the Himalayas, and whose wool production is generally disappointing.

Allegorically, the llama represents the vicuña, and vice versa.