‘You see their genuine love for them’

Maplewood residents’ bond with animals a beautiful thing: Kristie Istead

One female resident adoringly watches a flock of quails for about 45 minutes. Others reach out to touch an English angora bunny and a silkie rooster.

It was a zoo at Maplewood July 10.

It was a petting zoo, that is.

The Brighton long-term care home hosted an event featuring Kristie’s Little Portable Petting Zoo. Owner Kristie Istead brings a variety of farm animals to long-term care homes, retirement homes, children’s birthday parties and other functions. She and her volunteers enjoy visiting the seniors the most.

“We love going to see them,” Kristie tells The OMNIway.

“You can see their genuine love for the animals.”

Kristie says the elderly connect with farm animals in a way the younger generation does not. She loves watching the seniors’ reactions as they reminisce when they interact with the miniature horse, lambs and other animals.

“Sometimes memories mean everything to these folks. Even if they don’t want to touch them, they like to watch them.

Maplewood life enrichment aide Natalie Lake says the event attracted 15-20 residents.

“I think they enjoyed watching the animals,” Natalie says.

Some residents ventured outside to see the animals. Kristie brought the rooster and bunny indoors to visit those men and women who chose to stay inside.

“It was a wonderful afternoon, we set up out back this year with more space and more shade, so many residents spent the entire afternoon out there,” adds Rachel Corkery, administrator and life enrichment co-ordinator at Maplewood.

This is at least the second time the Brighton home has hosted the travelling petting zoo.

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