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Petting zoo turns care home into barnyard bash

A popular petting zoo event helps residents relax and have fun.

Fuzzy rabbits, fancy chickens, baby goats and miniature horses visited an Edmonton-area long-term care facility as fall approached.

Residents, family members and staff of the Citadel Care Centre enjoyed getting close to the cuddly critters from Chicken John’s Petting Zoo in early September.

“For some of our residents who are no longer able to give us verbal feedback, we can still see the peace that comes over them. You can give someone a bunny to hold on to and just see their body settle and their muscles relax," said the centre's director of care, Dana Schnepf.

For resident Ruth Watson, the petting zoo is a reminder of growing up on a farm near Athabasca.

“Just getting to see the animals; it’s been so long since I was on a farm,” she said.

Watson, who has been living at the centre for five years, says besides singing and playing card games, the petting zoo is one of her favourite activities.

“I have pictures holding a black and white rabbit, and she just loved me. There was no way she wanted them to take her away,” she said.

Sandy Pelletier says she likes the petting zoo because it gives her more opportunities to see her daughter. Last year she says she snapped a photo of her daughter's finger being nibbled on by a goat.

“I think it’s wonderful for everyone to come in and see the animals,” she said.