Caesar the 'no drama' therapy llama has been keeping protesters and police calm in Portland
via Tania / Twitter

Therapy animals have become a controversial issue of recent, even though they've helped over 500,000 people overcome psychological and physical issues that have made it difficult to perform everyday tasks.

It's because countless people have tried to pass off their pets as service animals, making it hard for legitimate, trained animals to gain acceptance in public.

So when people hear about emotional support llamas, they're met with understandable cynicism. However, studies show they are great at helping children with autism spectrum disorder, and they are routinely used to cheer up people residents in retirement homes.


Llamas are calm, have plush fur perfect for petting, and large, empathetic eyes. Llama owners will tell you their pets have a sixth sense about people who are needy, ill or frail.

One emotional support llama has been helping cool down some of the most heated streets in America.

Caesar the "No Drama Llama" and his caretaker, Larry McCool, have been marching in Portland Black Lives Matter protests and he's been a calming influence on both demonstrators and the police.

Who in the world wouldn't be comforted by 350 pounds of pure fluffy bliss?

"Everyone seemed really happy to have him there, even those who were confused by his presence," Caitlin Reasor, who spotted Caesar at the peaceful protest, told The Sun, "he was definitely a good morale booster."

Demonstrator Nakaycha Dent added: "Everyone was immediately all smiles as soon as they saw him galloping past. Everyone was shocked there was a llama, but you could definitely feel the positive vibe he brought to the crowd.

McCool agrees that Caesar can be an oasis of chill in situations that can easily become heated.

"They'll be clapping, chanting, stomping, and all of a sudden I'll get up with Caesar and the next thing I know, everyone will just band around Caesar," McCool told The Washington Post.

The 6-year-old Argentine grand champion show llama has been a comforting presence to police as well.

"I don't care how big, how staunch, how intense that somebody is — it could be a big marcher in total riot gear, and he will come up and give Caesar a big hug," said McCool. "It's all I can do to just keep him from snuggling."

Caesar and McCool have attended 10 Black Lives Matter protests in Portland this year and, over the years, have been to over 50 protests in support of a variety of civil and environmental causes.

They also regularly visit retirement homes to cheer up elderly residents.

McCool has owned the Mystic Llama Farm for over 20 years and cared for dozens of Llamas. But when he met Caesar in 2015, he knew there was something different about him.

"He's a magical creature," McCool said. "I wish I could take some credit for him, but he's developed all on his own. I've been his tutor and his guide, but sometimes I'm the one following him."

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Temwa Mzumara knows firsthand what it feels like to watch helplessly as a loved one fights to stay alive. In fact, experiencing that level of fear and vulnerability is what inspired her to become a nurse anesthetist. She wanted to be involved in the process of not only keeping critically ill people alive, but offering them peace in the midst of the unknown.

"I want to, in the minutes before taking the patient into surgery, develop a trusting and therapeutic relationship and help instill hope," said Mzumara. Especially now, with Covid restrictions, loved ones are unable to be at the side of a patient heading to surgery which makes the ability to understand and quiet her patients' fears such an important part of what she does.

Temwa | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Dedicated to making a difference in the lives of her patients, Nurse Mzumara is one of the four nurses featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series by CeraVe® that honors nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to their patients and communities.

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As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

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Nicole Abate, a Registered Medical-Surgical Nurse living in New Mexico, starts her workday around 5:00 a.m. During her 20-minute drive to work, she gets to watch the sun rise over the Sandia Mountains as she sips her coffee.

"It's one of my favorite things to do," said Nurse Abate. "A lot of us need a little calm before the storm."

Nicole | Heroes Behind the Masks Presented by CeraVe youtu.be

In March 2020, after a fairly quiet start to the year, Nurse Abate's unit became the official COVID unit for her hospital. "It went full force after that," she says. Abate was afraid, overwhelmed with uncertainty, never knowing what was next on the wild roller coaster in this new territory, "just when you think ...we know exactly what we're doing, boom, something else hits so you adapt… that's part of nursing too." Abate faced her responsibilities courageously and with grace, as she always does, making life a little better for patients and their families "Thank you for taking care of my father," reads one recent letter from a patient's family. "You were kind, attentive and strong and we are truly grateful."

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