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Serge the Llama (French: Serge le lama) is a nickname given to a circus llama from Bordeaux, France, who became internet famous after a group of local teenagers took the animal around the city on the evening of October 31st, 2013. Named after the French singer Serge Lama, photographs of the animal on a night out quickly went viral on the French social and news media, inspiring a slew of parodies and tributes to Serge the llama.
On the night of October 31th, 2013, five drunk young men from Bordeaux, France, wandered out of a nightclub and decided to spontaneously abduct a llama from the Italian-French circus Beautour as a prank. At first, they attempted to take a zebra from the circus but the zebra would not cooperate, so they settled on taking an eight-year old llama instead and made him walk around the city with them, taking several photos of the incident with their phones.
After walking around the city, the group took the llama on the local tramway. The teens managed to take a video of the experience and uploaded to the internet, though it was subsequently taken down. The passengers on the ride called and alerted police as to what was happening onboard. The group was eventually stopped by the police and charged with misdemeanor theft charges. The llama was returned to the circus, unharmed.
Shortly after the story broke out, Dozens of photoshopped images of Serge were posted online. Many of the images were poking fun at celebrities and French culture.
An unofficial Tumblr blog was created to collect photoshopped images by fans. Some photos of Serge are parodies of celebrities, including the singer Lana Del Rey (pictured below). Other edits feature pictures of the Dalai Lama with puns on the word “lama”.
A song about the Serge the llama was uploaded to YouTube called “Lamaoutai” (a parody of the popular Euro pop song “Papaoutai”).
News Media Coverage
The story was picked up by international news outlets, drawing attention from people around the world. Later on, two of the young men gave an interview on the French television show Le Petit Journal, during which one of the boys named Mathieu said, "It walked with us like a good dog would have.”
As news of the incident spread across media outlets, a French Facebook page called "Support the 5 Bordeaux men who walked “Serge” the llama in a tram" (Soutien aux 5 Bordelais qui ont promené Serge" le lama dans un tramway) was set up to support the five teenagers who were charged with theft. At its peak, the Facebook page accrued more than 900,000 likes, far surpassing that of the French president François Hollande (screenshot below).
Circus Owner Drops Charges
Two days after the event, the circus owner Mr. John Beautour removed his complaints due to the sudden popularity his llama gained. On the 5th of November, the company’s director even made a reunion of the five guys and the llama saying he “wasn’t mad about them” and wanted to “discuss about that to close the case”. The attention from the incident brought dozens of people to the circus to take photos with Serge.
Serge Lama’s Endorsement
The llama’s name, Serge le Lama, is a reference to French singer Serge Lama, who is also from Bordeaux. When interviewed about the incident, the singer had a good laugh about it: “It’s really great, since no one and nothing was hurt or damaged […] and besides this story took place in my city of birth. That’s a nice reference. With this story I took Bordeaux’s tramway at least once.”
The Telegraph – Serge the liberated llama has night out in Bordeaux