Arizona authorities chase down 2 escaped llamas

Two escaped llamas led authorities in Phoenix on a long chase on Thursday as audiences nationwide were captivated by live video of their escapades filmed from television news helicopters.

The llama drama began at lunchtime when a large white llama and a slightly smaller black companion were spotted roaming the northwestern suburb of Sun City.

They were pursued by deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and members of the public, often skipping away from capture at the last moment and delighting viewers on social media who made #llamas a top trending hashtag on Twitter, along with several variations.

After a chase lasting almost an hour, the pair became separated and the black llama was caught. Its boisterous white counterpart was eventually lassoed by a man from the back of a pickup truck.

Police said the pair escaped from a mobile petting zoo while it was visiting an assisted living centre as a form of animal therapy, and that they had been returned to their owners.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said no criminal charges would be filed.