Wild Science, a specialist animal education group, brought some inhabitants of their ‘mini zoo’ to The Mews recently, where service users from all of our homes could take part in an ‘animal therapy’ session.
For service users who have mobility difficulties, or for people who would find visiting a real zoo an over-stimulating environment, the session presented an excellent opportunity to learn about some unusual creatures. It was a fun, engaging and fascinating afternoon for everyone who took part, providing close-up interaction with a wide range of different animals. These included a gerbil, a tree frog, a snake and a giant millipede, plus a pygmy hedgehog and a crested gecko, which were two of the most popular animals.
We learnt about all of the animals’ natural habitats and how they live. The Madagascan Cockroach was fascinating: we discovered that cockroaches have been around since the times of the dinosaurs, they can survive being frozen and can hold their breath for 45 minutes!
All of the service users were able to benefit from a new and rewarding experience and the joy of holding or stroking the animals was clearly evident for some people. In addition, simple interactions with animals can be a soothing and relaxing experience.
The ‘animal therapy’ session was part of a range of activities at our specialist residential care homes for adults with learning disabilities or acquired brain injuries. They are designed to provide a fulfilling and inclusive lifestyle and to assist in rehabilitation programmes.