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Mobile zoo brings python, tarantula and owl to Solihull care home

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Lillian with Vanessa, a very large and hairy arachnid

A big snake, bird of prey and a huge hairy spider were among some unusual guests to visit Royal Star & Garter in Solihull.


They were brought to the Home by mobile zoo Animals in Hands, on Wednesday, 10 January.


Royal Star & Garter provides loving, compassionate care to veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia, and has new services reaching out into the community.

Mary strokes Midnight the barn owl at Royal Star & Garter

During the Animals in Hands visit, residents were given the chance to hold and stroke a variety of creatures, including a golden-knee tarantula, a barn owl, a royal python, a panther chameleon, a rabbit, a tortoise, and a black velvet chinchilla.


The event was organised by the Home’s dedicated Wellbeing Team which delivers activities, companionship, outings and exercise for residents seven days a week. Wellbeing Coordinator Dawn Briggs said: “I can say with some degree of confidence that our residents are far braver than me and most of the staff here! They loved hearing about the animals and holding them. You could feel the buzz in the room, and afterwards they said how much fun they had.”

Fred with royal python Zara

Research shows stroking animals can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and increase social interaction and physical activity. It has also been shown to help battle depression and loneliness.


‘I had so much fun’


Resident Val said: “The animals were beautiful, and to able to hold them and stroke them and learn about them was wonderful. I had so much fun.”


Animals in Hands was set up by former zookeeper Mo Safeer, who is known as the Animal Man. He has brought his mobile zoo to the Solihull Home before, and said: “I very much look forward to my visits to Royal Star & Garter. The Home is fantastic, and I find the residents are always fully engaged and captivated by the animals they get to meet and handle. This animal-assisted therapy session is delivered in a relaxed and informal way which the appreciative residents respond well to. It is always a pleasure to interact with them.”

Alex the chinchilla gets a cuddle from June

Royal Star & Garter in Solihull is welcoming new residents. For more information on this, or to work at the Home, go to

Wendy keeps an eye on Midnight, a barn owl
Eileen holds panther chameleon Otis
Joy goes eye-to-eye with the barn owl
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