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Plucky veterans get up close to creepy crawlies during visit from zoo

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Alec with the Madagascan ground boa

Some weird and wonderful creatures from around the world found their way into The Royal Star & Garter Home in Surbiton following a visit a special zoo.


Exotic animals including a Brazilian black spider, a fully-grown Madagascan ground boa constrictor, and a meerkat were some of the star attractions when the Spirit of the Wild zoo visited the Home, which cares for ex-Servicemen and women living with disability or dementia, on 29 August.


Residents were able to be up close and personal with the animals and insects, stroking and holding them, and in some cases, allowing them to rest on their heads.

Steve stroking the meerkat

They were also shown giant stick insects, a parrot, lizards and chameleons, a barn owl, an African bull frog, tortoises and a hedgehog-like mammal called a tenrec.


Ben Pugh spoke to residents and relatives about each animal, telling them about their habitat, diet and traits.

The chameleon hanging off the finger of Ann

The event was organised by Activities Manager Raquel Pena-Aristizabal. She said: “I made sure I kept well away from the spider, but the residents showed no fear and loved meeting all the wonderful animals and creepy-crawlies. They had a great time!”


Speaking afterwards, Ben said: “I loved it. It’s always such a pleasure to come here.”

Pat says hello to the barn owl
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