This Major US Airport Is Using "Llama Therapy" For Travelers (Yes, You Read That Right)

You've probably heard the iconic slogan "Keep Portland Weird." If you're familiar with the vibe of this charming city in the Pacific Northwest, you won't be surprised to hear about the latest guests to make rounds at the Portland International Airport (PDX). Two impeccably dressed therapy llamas and their human family recently toured around Concourse C to deliver some holiday cheer to travelers.

The loveable camelids Beni and Prince visited the airport three times in December. As captured on TikTok, they were available for pets, hugs, selfies, and quite a few carrot kisses, "Lady and the Tramp" style. As in, folks would put a carrot in their mouth and the llamas would lean in and grab the other half, delighting passengers of all ages. The llamas wore holiday sweaters and antlers, giving off their very best reindeer impressions. "Oh my god, I so need a therapy llama," proclaimed one passenger amid a flight delay via a TikTok clip. She appeared visibly relieved as she leaned in and gave the 400-pound animal a warm embrace. "I'm so happy right now," she said.


reason 102848308 why @FlyPDX is THE BEST airport! getting to hug THERAPY LLAMAS during one of the most stressful travel seasons is life giving 🥰🦙 we are so happy we could help lighten so many spirits!! we'll be back Friday & Monday 10am-12pm in concourse C is you're flying in/out of PDX ❄️🦙✈️ #happyllamadays #holidaycheer #pdxairport #flypdx #pdxllamas #therapyllama #therapyforeveryone

♬ Home Alone – Somewhere In My Memory – Theme – Geek Music

Therapy animals at PDX and beyond

Portland International Airport (PDX) brings therapy animals throughout the year to support passengers. In the past, the llamas have been such a hit that they decided to bring them back to alleviate the stress associated with the busy holiday season, according to Allison Ferre, the airport's media relations manager, via an interview with USA Today. It wasn't long before several videos of the llamas went viral and made headlines around the world, delivering smiles well beyond the airport.

Though Portland may have the only airport with therapy llamas in the budget, other West Coast destinations have built similar programs. San Jose Mineta International Airport (SJC), the first to ever introduce therapy animals, has an impressive roster of 42 dogs, four cats, and one bunny. Nearby, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has a "Wag Brigade" with 11 dogs, one rabbit, and the world's first airport therapy pig to give fliers an instant boost of oxytocin, which is a hormone that boosts relaxation and feelings of happiness.

How to visit the llamas

If you missed the llamas at the Portland airport this time around, not to worry. While there are no scheduled appearances for the new year, you can find them with a herd of 10 other llamas and alpacas on a farm 25 minutes outside the airport. These gentle therapy animals are part of a nonprofit called Mtn Peaks Therapy Llamas and Alpacas, which provides private farm tours and educational experiences for visitors for $65 to $150, depending on when you go and how many people are in your party.

The group periodically hosts public events at the farm, such as the New Year's Eve Photo Experience, where you can meet the herd, sip on a cup of hot chocolate, walk a llama through an obstacle course, and take home plenty of memorable photographs of your time together. The group also makes off-farm visits to senior communities, healthcare facilities, parties, and private events. As true working animals, the airport was just one stop of many. But, as the group put it via Instagram, it was a "llamazing" one.