The nursing home patients at Washington’s Bellingham Health and Rehabilitation Center are visited every few months by two llamas, Marisco and N.H. Flight of the Eagle, who are registered therapists. Yes, the llamas are registered therapists!
Having two 50 kilo llamas walk down the corridors of a health-care facility is not as absurd as some folks may claim. Animal assisted therapy has been around for quite some time now, as contemporary treatment can be traced back to 1975 when David Lee, a social worker, gifted small animals like fish, gerbils and birds to inmates at the Lima State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Over time, fighting among the inmates reduced significantly, and suicide attempts ceased.
“It was heaven. Just emotionally – to be able to touch an animal and hold an animal close”
Holly Barto, Bellingham Health and Rehabilitation Center, Washington, USA