Alpaca was Tiverton sanctuary's foremost ambassador, resident character
January 14, 2021
By Bruce Burdett
Photogenic Bobbert comes in for a closeup at Tiverton's West Place Animal Sanctuary.
West Place Animal Sanctuary bid farewell to Bobbert the alpaca late in the evening of Wednesday, January 6. Resident greeter (often with kisses), ambassador, and entertainer, Bobbert had become the face of the Tiverton sanctuary and his loss was a blow to staff, volunteers and visitors alike.
"He will forever remain the most handsome, the biggest character, and the happiest and most unique creature any of us ever had the pleasure of meeting," said Wendy Taylor, the sanctuary's founder and executive director.
Bobbert arrived at West Place in 2010 at the age of six months as a refugee from a traveling petting zoo, and lived there until his death at the relatively young age of 11.
That great name came with him, Ms. Taylor said.
"They actually called him Bobbert at the petting zoo and we thought, how in the world can we change that? His name was as unique as he was. He was the official ambassador for sure."
Always curious and seldom shy, Bobbert was friend to all at West Place, feathered or furred, two legs or four.
"Most of our animals are happy to just relax and live their new-found life at West Place, but not Bobbert," Ms. Taylor said. "He loved entertaining and he did so every day throughout his life with us. All of our rescues are amazing, but we will never be this blessed again. He was truly one of a kind."
Bobbert soon became a Sakonnet celebrity.
Bobbert sticks his head through a fence to greet another young West Place resident.
"We don’t know if it was because of his good looks or his incredible bigger-than-life personality, but Bobbert turned himself into a star. He appeared on television, he was in a coffee table book called ‘Radiant: Farm Animals up Close and Personal,’ and he was one of the faces of an animal-friendly clothing line called Saved Kisses."
And Bobbert was recently introduced to an audience of millions when the on-line animal site The DoDo profiled his recovery from a meningeal worm affliction that left him temporary unable to walk nearly a year ago. With his alpaca buddy Cash constantly at his side, Bobbert worked to regain his footing and eventually hobbled out into the barnyard to rejoin the rest of the sanctuary flock.
Bobbert during his first winter at West Place -- he was still too young to shear at the time.
He had recuperated and was seemingly doing well when, four days before Christmas, a volunteer noticed that Bobbert was not himself. Rest and treatment helped a bit over the next couple of days but soon Bobbert began to display alarming symptoms and was driven in the back of the sanctuary director's SUV to Tufts Veterinary Medical Hospital in Massachusetts.
Tests, more treatments and moments of guarded optimism followed but on Thursday, Ms. Taylor posted:
"This is not an update I wanted to write. The board chairman and I drove to Tufts last night (1/06). Upon arrival, Bobbert's surgeon met us in the parking lot to warn us that he had taken another turn for the worse. The doctors tried their best, Bobbert gave it his all, and the decision we had to make was one of the hardest we have ever been faced with here at the sanctuary.
The board chair and I sat on the ground and let him sleep in our laps for about an hour and, whenever he could, he would open his one eye and wag his tail to let us know that he knew we were there with him."
Medical bills fund drive
The non-profit West Place Sanctuary relies on donations to help pay the high cost of caring for the animals it takes in, most of them for the rest of their lives. With Bobbert's medical bills expected to reach $15,000 or more, the sanctuary welcomes contributions -– the Bobbert campaign can be found at https://secure.givelively.org/donate/west-place-animal-sanctuary/bobbert-s-medical-emergency.
Details can be found as well on the West Place website and Facebook page.
Ms. Taylor also plans to carry on Bobbert's legacy by creating The Bobbert Memorial Fund, an internship scholarship fund.
"Rest in the sweetest peace, our dear boy." Ms. Taylor added, "We love you Bobbert!"
Bobbert grins for a photo.