Please Enjoy This Story About Toy Llamas And Australia's Strict Biosecurity Laws

    This takes me back to the great Pistol and Boo saga of 2015, when an Australian government minister threatened to kill Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's dogs.

    Hello. It's my pleasure to introduce these two toy llamas.

    My llama from Argentina courtesy of @CroweDM. Mine is on the left because it’s carrying quinoa and I live north side; @BevanShields has the one on the right with more decorative hooves.

    Twitter / Stephanie Peatling / Via Twitter: @srpeatling

    Cute, right?

    Twitter / Stephanie Peatling / Via Twitter: @srpeatling

    These very innocent-looking llamas are from Argentina!

    Twitter / Stephanie Peatling / Via Twitter: @srpeatling

    When David Crowe, a political journalist at The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, went to South America to cover the G20, he generously bought the llamas for his colleagues Stephanie Peatling and Bevan Shields.

    Stay with me for a story about these poor llamas, which @CroweDM brought @srpeatling and me after a recent work trip to South America for the G20.

    Twitter / Bevan Shields / Via Twitter: @BevanShields

    Back in December, Peatling did what anyone might do with adorable toy llamas and tweeted a picture of them.

    Twitter / Stephanie Peatling / Via Twitter: @srpeatling

    But somewhere out there on Twitter, there was a snitch.

    Twitter / Stephanie Peatling / Via Twitter: @srpeatling

    Two months after Peatling's fateful tweet, Crowe got a text message from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

    Many months after that tweet by @srpeatling I was sitting in Question Time and got a text message.

    Oh, what's that, you don't know Australia's agriculture department? Allow me to refresh your memory of the saga of Pistol and Boo, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's dogs, who narrowly escaped death when they wronged the department.

    Glenn Hunt / AAPIMAGE

    In 2015, then agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce threatened to put Pistol and Boo permanently to sleep.

    Daniel Munoz / AAPIMAGE

    Without declaring the pups, Depp and Heard brought Pistol and Boo on their private jet to Australia, where they remained until their groomers posted a photo on Facebook...

    Facebook: HappyDogz

    ...and the Australian government was not at all happy.

    Media camped outside Johnny Depps GC mansion waiting for his dogs to be destroyed or deported. @abcgoldcoast

    The agriculture department said the pooches had 72 hours to leave the country or they would be euthanised.

    "If we start letting movie stars – even though they've been [voted] the Sexiest Man Alive twice – to come into our nation, then why don't we just break the laws for everybody?" Joyce said.

    Facebook / HappyDogz

    "It's time Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States."

    Pistol and Boo did indeed bugger off (on a private jet). But then Heard ended up having to stand trial for bringing the dogs into Australia.

    Glenn Hunt / AAPIMAGE

    It was a whole thing. She pleaded guilty and paid a $1,000 fine.

    And the department got Depp and Heard to create this seminal piece of art.

    View this video on YouTube

    YouTube / Department of Agriculture / Via

    This video – nay, short film – blessed us with the unforgettable opening line: "Australia is a wonderful island".

    Anyway, the point of all this is that the Australian government takes biosecurity extreeeeemely seriously.

    YouTube / Department of Agriculture / Via

    Back to the llamas.

    Twitter / Stephanie Peatling / Via Twitter: @srpeatling

    Crowe thought there was some mistake. Surely the government had got the wrong David (and the wrong llama).

    Twitter / David Crowe / Via Twitter: @CroweDM

    But it was real. Apparently the Department of Agriculture is texting these days.

    Twitter / David Crowe / Via Twitter: @CroweDM

    Someone on Twitter had DOBBED him in to the department.

    Twitter / David Crowe / Via Twitter: @CroweDM

    And now Vicki was coming for the llamas.

    Twitter / David Crowe / Via Twitter: @CroweDM
    David Crowe / Twitter

    And their "viable" seeds.

    Stephanie Peatling / Twitter / Via Twitter: @srpeatling
    Bevan Shields / Twitter / Via Twitter: @BevanShields

    Things were looking grim for the llamas. Their owners were getting ready to say goodbye.

    The bad news arrived this morning - the llamas will be collected by a biosecurity official. They may be incinerated. RIP llamas. But I guess it is good to see our officials take biosecurity threats seriously.

    Were they headed for the incinerator?!??!

    Twitter / Stephanie Peatling / Via Twitter: @srpeatling

    Sad to report the llamas will be taken to their final resting place tomorrow.

    But in a last-minute twist, Crowe discovered that there really weren't that many "viable seeds" nestling within the llamas' side packs.

    So when Osario from the department came to collect, we very scientifically removed the viable seeds.

    So off the department went with the seeds, leaving the llamas with empty packs.

    The seeds have been removed in an airtight container for testing by the department’s plant pathologist. And here are the llamas after their dramas.

    BuzzFeed News asked the department for more information on what went down with the llamas and their seeds.

    A spokesperson told us that the department "treats referrals from external sources of potential biosecurity risk seriously".

    "Information provided to the department is reviewed and acted upon promptly," they added.

    "Untreated plant and animal matter has the potential to carry a range of pests or diseases which could devastate our $60 billion agricultural industries."

    Twitter / Stephanie Peatling / Via Twitter: @srpeatling

    Look, it sounds pretty serious.

    But the department wouldn't tell us any more about these specific llamas.

    These llamas had a lucky escape after a close shave with death.

    Exciting news the llamas will live to fight another day

    And now this llama is back in business, baby.

    Llama update - after @CroweDM’s agricultural diplomacy mine has been returned. Her load is lightened and I’m thrilled she’s back.

    Hannah Ryan is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

    Contact Hannah Ryan at

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