As far as llamas go, the six that the Hubbell family raise at their Lawrence home are a community-service oriented bunch.
Kim Hubbell, a clinical social worker at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, is training the llamas to be therapy animals for clients with communication disorders such as autism and Asperger’s syndrome.
And this past weekend, the family donated the llamas’ highly absorbent hair to help clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“It has a very low oil content,” Hubbell said of the llama hair. “So it makes it kind of perfect for that.”
Hair from various sources, including humans, is being collected across the country by various organizations, such as Matter of Trust, and used to create hair mats, which are sent to areas affected by the spill.
It’s a simple, cost-effective way for the Hubbells to help out.
Kim’s husband, Pat, a pharmacist at Sigler Pharmacy, explained the process to their 5-year-old daughter, Milena.
“We want to get the oil out of there,” he said, “so it doesn’t kill the fish and animals.”
Kim Hubbell first heard of the idea through a llama network e-mail, and the idea made sense because the llamas get sheared in the summer anyway to help keep them cool.
“It’s something we do a lot, and since we can do something to save the environment, it’s even better,” said Kim’s 11-year-old son, Piper, who shows the llamas at 4-H events throughout the year.
While they’re helping their animal brethren with their fur, the shearing wasn’t exactly something the llamas enjoyed.
“He hums ... lets me know he’s not real happy about it,” Kim said as she wrestled with a 300-pound llama named Pooh Bear.
On Sunday, the Hubbells teamed up to fill two boxes full of llama hair, which will be sent to Mobile, Ala.
Kim Hubbell said she hoped others with llamas would consider shearing their animals to help clean up the oil spill.
It’s a fun family event that helps instill community-service values in her children, she said.
“That’s something we’re always trying to teach our kids: How do you help others through what you enjoy,” she said.