Petición cerrada

Apple iOS: Create llama and alpaca emoji immediately!

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TL,DR: Llamas and alpacas are wise, noble beasts and fundamental to Andean civilisation past and present. It is, frankly, an outrage that they are not given iOS emoji when camels (two kinds!) and fictional creatures like Unicorns are.

Apple, please rectify this in your next iOS update, right a historic wrong, and win the gratitude of millions of South Americans and laminoid lovers worldwide. Do NOT include humps.

Sign now!


Dear Apple CEO (Chief Emoji Officer)

I write with news of a shocking discovery into which I’m sure you’ll want to look immediately.

Yesterday evening, I was WhatsApp-ing my friend Don Alejandro Choque, a humble herder of llamas and alpacas who dwells on the misty altiplano beneath the majestic, snow-capped peaks of Bolivia’s Cordillera Real.

He’s a wise man who knows every in and out, both literal and figurative, of these majestic South American camelids –

·         where to find the most nutritious Ichu grass (typically above 3600m);

·         how many quintals of chuno a healthy mature female can carry (absolutely NONE for an alpaca because they are NOT load-bearing, up to 1.5 for a llama);

·         how to train llamas to guard sheep (a female is better than a male as it is less likely to attempt to copulate with, and hence smother, the livestock); and

·         the differences between an alpaca’s ears (short, spear-shaped) and those of a llama (long, like a banana, obviously).

Amid the constant stream of lamini lore and memes relating to Colombian musical heartthrob Maluma, I made the sudden, flabbergasting realisation – you would think that I or Alejandro would have done so before, but you’d be wrong – that IOS contains no emoji at all for llamas or alpacas, still less for their wild cousins, the frivolous, gambolling vicuña or the sombre, even eldritch, guanaco.

Yet a few swipes of my thumb (akin, in a way, to the soft pad on an alpaca’s foot, although thankfully devoid of the tough, triangular toenail!) were sufficient to realise that iOS does offer emoji for Eurasian camelids – both Bactrian and Dromedary!

For a moment I was tempted to shrug this regrettable-if-racist oversight off, like Don Alejandro might his llama-wool jerkin (coarse outer coat, soft inner coat) and alpaca-wool gilet (a very fine single coat) as he barrels into the mosh pit at a Maluma concert.

But I then saw that iOS also makes available emoji for beings that don’t even exist – such as Chinese Dragon (profile), Chinese Dragon (portrait), Unicorn (profile portrait), Father and Mrs Christmas (portraits; all skin tones, although arguably only olive-skinned is historically correct), and Medal-Winning Caucasian Sprinter (profile).

This is, frankly, ridiculous. Lama glama and vicugna pacos both do exist, and, since their domestication millennia ago, have formed the woolly, lanolin-free bedrock of Andean civilisation.

How else, without the load-bearing capacity of the former and in the absence of the wheel, could the Inca have erected the soaring heights of Machu Picchu? How else, without the 52 natural wool colours and low-cholesterol meat of the latter (shamefully not classified as a meat-giving animal by the USDA), could Andean societies, from the arid Argentinian puna to the chilly slopes of Ecuador’s Chimborazo, still thrive?

I must confess that this discovery has really given me the hump – inappropriately, because neither llamas nor alpacas have them. If I were a llama, I’d possibly be so enraged as to spit the contents even of my third stomach compartment (as you will be aware, the more irritated a llama is, the further back in its polychambered stomach it expectorates from).

Indeed, upon mentioning my dread discovery to Don Alejandro, he abruptly ceased a lengthy screed on the varying merits of Maluma’s two studio albums, one mixtape, 38 singles (20 featured) and 6 promotional singles and – after a terrible, terrible pause – sent a voice recording of a llama (or was it, in fact, him?) in severe distress.


I trust that as soon as the next iOS update is rolled out it will include several emoji reflecting the full laminoid gamut. Given the circumstances, and as a show of good faith, I do not think it would be too much effort for you to provide iterations of:

·         both varieties of alpaca (Huacaya: dense, long fleece; Suri: shorter, lighter fleece);

·         the multiple different kinds of llama (including woolly, medium, Suri, and – my personal favourite – the Ccara Sullo, or Classic Llama);

·         a huarizo (the offspring of a llama and alpaca, prized for its gentle disposition);

·         guanacos and vicuñas, and

·         the mysterious extinct camelids that once roamed the Americas during the Pleistocene (please let me know once you have received this letter and I will WhatsApp you images of several fossil specimens currently in my possession, although you must tell no-one else that I have these).

I ask you to ensure that, while drawing, your design team bear in mind that a llama’s nostrils are not sealable (like a camel’s), it does not have long, bushy eyebrows (ditto), and that a llama has a longer mating period and a shorter gestation time whereas a camel has a shorter mating period and a longer gestation time. I will be able to tell whether these instructions have been complied with. I do not wish to have to switch to Android.

Don Alejandro also asks if, while you are at it, you can include an emoji for Maluma.

Llamame cuando recibas,

Laurence Blair


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