Members of Warrington’s older community have been forging friendships with some special visitors after the zoo recently paid a visit for an animal therapy session, bringing the delights of the natural world to their home at Belong.
Residents at the Latchford care village welcomed the menagerie, with many daring to handle the exotic guests, including iguanas and an array of snakes. The session proved to be a hit, with participants enjoying greeting guinea pigs, making mischief with meerkats and looking after tortoises, who helped some of their keepers to come out of their own shells.
Peter Norman, general manager at Belong Warrington, explains more: “To see the impact has been very encouraging, with our quieter customers and those living with dementia really engaged by interacting with the creatures. People have a different relationship with animals and being with them offers a sensory experience and the resulting benefits have been far-reaching.” Academic studies have shown quality of life improvements for people with dementia as animals can help to encourage cognitive stimulation and the expression of emotions.
KC Exotic Mobile Zoo were invited to Belong Warrington as part of its broad and varied activities programme for customers, designed to occupy them with meaningful activities, many of which help them to regain lost skills or develop new ones. Other recent opportunities include the introduction of a visiting music therapist, and welcoming local school children for intergenerational activities, facilitated by newly appointed experience coordinator, Louise Kelly.
Peter Norman continues: “We’ve had a fantastic response from our customers: from the moment they heard about the visit and even now, they’re still talking about it and reminiscing about their own animal experiences from years gone by. It’s not every day you get the chance to play zookeeper; the joy on their faces has been a pleasure to see.”