It was in Six-Fours that he built Var Lamas. On this educational farm, Benjamin Leroy-Blanc has been raising Jules and 39 of her peers – Soleil, Simba, Ottina and even Maryline – for twelve years. He welcomes visitors who come to discover his South American animals upon reservation (by writing to [email protected]).
Departures to nursing homes or visits to specialized institutions are carried out by the zootherapy institute, called Le Corral des lamas. Jules, but also Aloha or Itak are the stars. They are the ones who work with the vulnerable public, people with disabilities or autistic children.
From London City to Love at First Sight with Llamas
In his previous life, Benjamin Leroy-Blanc was a merchant. The creation of creation is the result of an unusual journey. It started in the City of London and the Paris Stock Exchange! As a student, Benjamin Leroy-Blanc really turned to international trade and finance, becoming a merchant and entrepreneur. After several years, however, the young man realizes that his stressful job is meaningless.
“It made me want to go for something that looks like me and I like it. However, from a very young age, I am an animal lover.”
It was in a zoo that he “loved at first sight with llamas”.
“I wanted to raise them, not to sell them, but to work with them.”
Training in Animal Science and Pettherapy
Benjamin Leroy-Blanc specifically trained not only in reproduction but also – above all – in animal therapy. “I have a certificate from a specialized school and I have taken many training courses.” It is with this knowledge that he can set goals with the educational teams: around memory, guidance, affection. “We don’t do zoo animation,” insists the creator.
“The llama, being a woolly animal, allows you to work on fine motor skills: we brush, we care…”
But the specialty of Curral des Lamas is the agility course. “There, we can work on all goals!” The only limit, assures Benjamin Leroy-Blanc, “It’s if the person is not receptive to the animal or has fears and doesn’t want to get in touch.”
Personality question… of the lama!
If the breeder is trained, Jules and his ilk must have been too. “As soon as they are a year and a half old, we put them in conditions, introducing them to situations they can fear so they get used to it and don’t have any more sudden movements.” And then there is the character of each animal. Jules, for example, is the perfect example for this job, he is very calm, seeking contact with humans.
Moreover, it was with him that Le Corral des Lamas started.
His first moments with Jules are a revelation. “I thought to myself, ‘Wow, the effects are there, the animals behave wonderfully’.”
Benjamin Leroy-Blanc recalls: “He was the first lama I bought, the first I educated, the first I put out to teach him the work of mediation.”
Between the llama and its creator, the relationship was naturally woven. “We started this synergy with Jules, then it grew very slowly.”
Since then, Benjamin Leroy-Blanc has flourished. He found the sense he was missing. He shares it with Aurélie, his partner, also present in the creation, and their two children. But also with all those who share these moments of sweetness. “We live very beautiful moments!”
Jules the llama logo… in rubber
Do you know Sophie la girafe? Well, soon you will be able to meet Jules the llama in his natural rubber version.
“I’ve been thinking about this for two years.explains Benjamin Leroy-Blanc, but it was the confinement that made me take stock.” And step up the gear on this project.
In fact, during the 55 days of confinement in the spring of 2020, the creator of six fournais, like many sectors, saw its activity completely paralyzed, its finances in the red.
“It’s generally not a profitable business, especially as I want to keep animal mediation affordable.” With the health crisis, the situation only worsened.
“I had to find something to help us live.”
Of course, having the idea is not enough to make a project a success. But Jules the Lama already has an investor and can boast of presenting French and European standards, assures its creator, still a bit entrepreneurial at heart.
a charity project
Today, “first production is gone” and Benjamin Leroy-Blanc is counting on a marketing release next fall. “A priori, we already have a large network of garden centers following us. Our goal is to be able to distribute Jules the Lama in the main stores.”
Put a little butter on the spinach, so that you can continue your activity, until you develop it with a hiking project accompanied by the llamas. But the zootherapist also hopes “to be able to continue helping people”. Thus, he intends to donate 2% of the revenue that Jules, the rubber version of the llama, will produce to local structures, working with both the elderly and animals.
“The ultimate goal would be to be able to create a Jules le Lama foundation. We really believe in it.”