At RNNH care home in Bournemouth, Dorset, residents have been having a ‘whale of a time’ talking and engaging with a wide range of unusual animals. This came about thanks to a visit from The Creature Teachers, a local animal encounters and experiences company which brings a variety of exotic and domestic animals into care homes for one-to-one interactions.
As part of the care home’s varied activity programme, residents spent an afternoon sitting in the shade in RNNH’s beautiful grounds being introduced to and engaging with a stunning Barn Owl named Echo, two Ferrets – Sunshine and Chester, Vincent the Tortoise, Perci a Giant Rabbit and a unique Snake, Jasper.
Talking about the visit, Registered Manager, Alan Johnson said: “Following their previous visit before the COVID pandemic, I’d invited Lisa and The Creature Teachers Team to return for another visit. Unfortunately, due to the lockdowns this was put on hold, so it was wonderful to finally host another fun, interactive zoological afternoon.
“Our residents enjoyed their time meeting different animals from The Creature Teacher’s varied Reptilia, Warrens, Parliaments, Lounges and Businesses – which I’ve learnt are the collective names.”
All the residents put on a protective Falconry Glove and literally opened their arms to welcome the visiting owl as she landed on them. They all agreed that Echo the Barn Owl and Perci the Rabbit were their favourites, with one resident calling the Barn Owl ‘a beautiful creature.’
The Creature Teachers is owned and operated by Lisa Kiely and her small team of hand- picked Creature Teachers. Lisa, who completed a degree in Zoology and a Masters in Animal Behaviour before going on to work in zoo education and animal displays throughout the UK and Ireland, has been introducing animals to people for nearly 20 years.
Lisa said: “At The Creature Teachers, we promote responsible and respectful animal handling, and our ‘one on one’ approach encourages everyone to get hands on with our Creature Team in a way that is safe and comfortable for handlers and animals alike.
“It was wonderful to see the RNNH residents making real connections with our Creature Family. We tailor each of our encounters so they are not only accessible and entertaining, but beneficial and therapeutic to the people we visit. It was a great afternoon.”
“There were lots of questions ‘flying about’ as the residents were keen to find out as much as possible about their new furry, scaly and feathered friends. This included what they liked to eat and their dietary needs, how old they were, what type of accommodation they lived in, where they came from and their natural behaviours,” Manager, Alan added.
Resident Jean Gillingham said: “It was a lovely afternoon. I really enjoyed holding the Barn Owl” with another resident, Ann Samuels saying: “I thought the Giant Rabbit was lovely, his fur was so soft.”
“Lisa and her team, together with their marvellous collection of creatures, gave our residents a unique and joyful afternoon. They were patient and calming and helped some residents overcome their animal fears, giving them time to be confident and happy to touch or stroke one or more or the creatures.
“The animal afternoon was such a success, we are already planning yet another return visit, which the residents are already really looking forward to,” Alan concluded.