Fuzzy rabbits, fancy chickens, baby goats and miniature horses visited the Citadel Care Centre last week.
Residents of the long-term care facility, as well as staff and residents’ family members, enjoyed petting and handling the cuddly critters from Chicken John’s Petting Zoo on Sept. 6.
“Everybody loves animals,” said Dana Schnepf, the centre’s director of care. “Even some of our residents who are no longer able to give us verbal feedback, we can see the peace that can come over them. You can give someone a bunny to hold on to and just see their body language settle and their muscles relax.
“I’ve seen a resident hold a bunny for an hour of this peaceful, calm time.”
Schnepf said that the petting zoo is one of the most popular events at the centre, not only for residents, but also for their families and for staff.
For Citadel Care Centre resident Ruth Watson, the petting zoo is a reminder of growing up on a farm near Athabasca.
“Just getting to see the animals, it’s been so long since I was on a farm,” she said.
Watson, who has been living at the centre for five years, said that besides singing and playing card games, the petting zoo is one of her favourite activities.
“I have pictures from a past petting zoo here, holding a black and white rabbit, and she just loved me – there was no way that she wanted them to take her away,” she said.
Sandy Pelletier said that she likes events like the petting zoo because they give her more opportunities to see her daughter who lives nearby.
She said that last year she managed to snap a photo of her daughter’s finger getting nibbled on by a goat.
“I think it’s wonderful for everyone to come in and see the animals,” she said.