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Friday, March 13, 2015

Zoo therapy: 'Doctors' await

(1938 WPA Poster)
What if we’ve had it backwards right along?  What if the animals we think we’re visiting are actually visiting us?

Ted Gregory of the Chicago Tribune tells the compelling story of a young lady whose life was changed by her internship at a zoo. 

Beforehand, Zinyra Ross had been “isolated by severe cognitive disabilities.”  She had hardly talked, and had “walked with her
head down all the time.”

Four years later, after having served “hundreds of hours as an exemplary Brookfield Zoo volunteer,” Ross exuded confidence.  She had done a great job “as a greeter, guide and teacher,” and   had even spoken before “more than 600 people at                       the Chicago Zoological Society’s black-tie fundraiser.”

What made such a difference?  Famed animal behaviorist Temple Grandin, herself autistic, believes that “animals are a safe way for people with autism to interact socially.”

Marguerite O’Haire of Purdue University’s Human-Animal Interaction Research group maintains that “human interaction with animals releases oxytocin, known as the ‘love hormone.’”  Therefore, all children (and adults, too) can benefits from such “doctoring.”


Copyright March 13, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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