A GIANT African millipede, snake, lizard, and a tortoise were among the latest visitors to a Tyneside care home.
The exotic creatures were brought to Willowdene Care Home, on Victoria Road West, Hebburn, by the Discovery Zoo for an animal therapy session with the elderly residents.
The first critter to meet the residents was Flash the tortoise, who received a banana from the home’s domestic worker Janice Farnham, and enthralled resident Barbara Berry, 81, and senior carer Shelby Fenwick.
Next came Tango the snake and Dexter the gecko, who fascinated residents Margaret Wilson, 90, and Cheryl Cook, 64, while home administrator Louise Todd and maître d’ Christine Chandler held the reptilian pair.
Amelia the giant African millipede made a new best friend in resident Henry Tweddle, 85, when he whispered her name and she came crawling onto his hand. Fellow residents Elizabeth Matthews, and Patricia Rushin, both 86, were not so enamoured with the creepy crawly.
The final guest of the day was guinea pig Pepe Le Poop, who received strokes from residents Margaret Prise, 94, and Jennifer Back, 74, among others.
Barbara said: “Can I just keep them all here please?”
Jennifer added: “They are all so adorable.”
Richard Johns, maintenance man at Willowdene Care Home, said: “The residents were excited and thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon with the animals.
“They even asked if I could build enclosures for them so we could keep them.”
Sharon Dobson, lead senior carer at Willowdene Care Home, said: “It was a fantastic afternoon that our residents will be talking about for a long time.
“Activities such as this have many therapeutic benefits, especially for those living with dementia.
“They help reduce stress, ease anxiety, and improve overall wellbeing. You only have to watch the residents with the animals to see how beneficial these sorts of therapy sessions are.”