The Power of Exotic Pet Therapy

Three stories of exotic animals helping people face life’s obstacles.

Ruffled feathers. Scaly skin. Hard shell. Those might not sound like the most comforting words; however, the animals that fit these descriptions have amazing healing powers. For many people around the globe, exotics are bringing happiness and joy to them each day.

Mazuri® knows exotic animals are unique, and so are the connections and relationships we build with them. We read amazing stories of adoption, love and companionship on the Mazuri® Facebook page every day.

Here are three of our favorite fan-submitted stories:

A boy and his alpaca: Facing obstacles together

Cairo and Logan W. are buddies. Cairo is a retired champion Suri alpaca. Logan is an 8-year old boy and alpaca lover; he’s also on the autistic spectrum.

“Alpacas have taught Logan about life, love and loss,” says Susan, Logan’s mom.  “After losing his first alpaca, Logan was devastated. Finding Cairo helped Logan cope.”

From the start, Cairo was a gentleman, letting Logan lead and dote on him.

“He is happy to do what my son asks of him, hang out and eat treats,” says Susan. “Cairo is always willing to try for Logan.”

Logan is involved with daily care, learning how to help with herd health management – haltering, trimming toenails, helping with veterinary care, checking weight and even doing fecal egg counts with his own microscope.

A burgeoning alpaca master, Logan is aiming to compete at two county fairs and the state fair next year. Together, Logan and Cairo are helping each other face life’s obstacles and thriving.

“He’s recently joined the local 4-H alpaca club and is learning how to handle, manage and train alpacas. Logan also helps make dryer balls from the alpaca fleeces,” adds Susan.

An unconditional cockatoo

Jazzy the Moluccan cockatoo and Chris K. immediately had a connection. Jazzy had a difficult past and Chris was housebound, frustrated and depressed. Chris’ wife Jennifer explains their relationship is reciprocal.  

“Jazzy helps him emotionally,” says Jennifer. “When Chris is feeling down, he cuddles with his cockatoo. In turn, the connection they’ve developed provides her a new-found happy household.”

Recognizing Jazzy’s effect on people, Jennifer takes her to nursing homes for educational programs. The residents love showering the cockatoo with affection and Jazzy loves soaking it up.

“She’s helped many [people],” says Jennifer. “The power of pet therapy is amazing.”

The greater community: Teaching students trust and love

Dr. Michael Bechtel began incorporating exotic animals in his classroom nearly two decades ago. His experiences eventually led to masters and doctoral research about the effects animals have on students in the classroom.

“Science is about discovering and understanding the unknown,” says Bechtel. “Exotic animals are an obvious choice. My students have the opportunity to learn about, handle and raise animals that they never would have experienced before. They enjoy learning about proper husbandry and maintenance procedures, as they want the creatures’ needs to be met.”

Most importantly, he’s found teaching with exotic animals goes beyond science and lesson plans.

“Animals teach trust. Animals teach unconditional love,” adds Bechtel. “Their presence in the classroom helps lessen anxiety – for both students and instructors. Lessons are always easier when you have a living example at hand.”

To read more exotic animal stories or share a story of your own, connect with Mazuri® on Facebook.