Llamas, cows, goats, oh my! Bolivia farm now offering animal cuddling, llama family portraits

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BOLIVIA, NC (WWAY) — The pandemic has left us all with a shortage of handshakes, hugs, and affection, but Greenlands Farm and Helpers of Our Farm are working to fill the gap.

Helpers of Our Farm, or HOOF, is a non-profit educational farm animal sanctuary operating on Greenlands Farm in Bolivia. Like everything else, HOOF President and Farm Owner Maud Kelley says the pandemic has presented challenges for the organization.

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“Before we were doing quite a few tours, teaching. Everything we do at HOOF is education-based, normally,” Kelley said. “We do parties and things as well, but if I’m there and I’m handling an animal, I will most likely teach you about it whether I’m at a birthday party or you’re here to learn.”

Eager to teach, get people safely back on the farm, and meet that basic need we’ve all been missing lately, Kelley started looking for new ideas.

“We are definitely at a deficit for feeling the ability to touch, hug, and embrace people and it’s wonderful to be able to do that with an animal,” Kelley said.”We are offering cow cuddling. We have other animals to cuddle as well. We’re also doing family portraits with our llama, Coleman.”

Originating in the Netherlands, where it’s called “koe knuffelen” or “cow hugging,” it’s used as a form of therapy or wellness activity.

“We all know the hormone of oxytocin. It creates a wonderful sense of peace and healing and love,” Kelley said. “So you get that experience when you hug somebody, or a cow, or a goat. Actually, in turn, it makes the goat or the cow feel very peaceful as well.”

For information on how you can boost your oxytocin and cuddle some farm animals, visit HOOF’s website.