Willows Estate a zoo for a day

Program offers residents interaction with exotic animals

What a zoo.

Willows Estate has gone wild, well at least it did for one day recently when the Aurora-based long-term care home hosted an activity for residents featuring a variety of exotic animals.

From reaching out to touch reptiles to having birds perched on their forearms, it was a great activity, according to Willows Estate life enrichment co-ordinator Teddy Mazzuca.

“It (did) go over well with the residents,” Teddy tells The OMNIway. “The residents were (very) engaged.”

Teddy hired a company called Hands on Exotics, which brought the menagerie to the home. The visiting creatures included a unique cat, a macaw, a turtle and a snake.

About 35 of the home’s residents took part in the activity. The handler of the animals approached each resident, offering every individual the option of getting a closer look and/or touching the creature.

Teddy has hosted the zoo activity before. She was inspired to do so after seeing how much residents enjoyed outings to the zoo.

However, that trip was a long one and exclusive to residents who were capable of taking part.

“I thought let’s bring it to the home so more residents can participate,” Teddy says. For those who can’t leave the home for a lengthy outing, “they can get the same effect here.”

Whether it’s exotics or a therapy dog, animals are a hit with the residents. “Pet therapy is just so meaningful.”

If you are interested in finding out more about hosting the program at your home, visit Hands on Exotics’ website.

If you have feedback on this article or a story idea for The OMNIway, please e-mail Deron Hamel at deron@axiomnews.com.