A bizarre attack by a llama has turned a summer vacation in B.C. into a harrowing ordeal for a 75-year-old woman from Montreal.
France Pilotte was on a family outing to a petting zoo at Krause Berry Farms in Langley, east of Vancouver, July 28 and said she was attacked by the animals they'd gone to see.
"It's like a nightmares," said Pilotte, who spoke publicly about the incident for the first time Friday.
Pilotte said she, her daughter and her grandson were feeding grain to goats and a llama when the unimaginable happened.
"The big thing jump on me and push me down so fast I jump in the air. I fell so hard. It's unbelievable," said Pilotte.
The "big thing" was the llama.
Goats also involved
Pilotte's daughter, Sandy Philpott, said she and the grandson were not hurt, but they were traumatized by what they witnessed.
"Awake or asleep, all I see is a llama pouncing on my mother, who I love, and her bones crushing and shattering and her screams of pain," Philpott said.
The other animals also became a problem during the incident, Pilotte said.
"After that, two goats were walking on me. They were on me. Staying on me."
Pilotte suffered numerous fractures. Plates, metal rods and pins have been inserted in her broken femur, hip, elbow and arm.
She also must undergo surgery to mend her broken knee.
Pilotte is expected to spend the next several weeks recovering in hospital.
Llamas are domesticated South American beasts of burden generally considered to be gentle.
But, like many animals, they're susceptible to a condition called "berserk male syndrome," said Trudy Handel of Xanadu Farms in Langley, home to several llamas.
"If you take the baby away from the mother when it's very, very young and you bottle feed it and you keep it away from its own kind, it tries to relate to you as the herd," Handel said. "And in doing that, you're either there to breed or you're there to drive away."
Farm insured, says owner
Krause Berry Farm has been in business for nearly 40 years and opened its petting zoo three years ago.
In a telephone interview with CBC News, owner Alf Krause said the llama involved in the incident is not full-grown.
Krause said whatever occurred to Pilotte was an accident, and the farm has insurance to cover such contingencies.
Pilotte's daughter said the family has hired a lawyer.
"There's no guarantee she's going to survive this, considering her age and the risk of infection and her need for another surgery," said Philpott.