'Small zoo' in Qingdao welfare house brightens children's life

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-03-28 08:27
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The photo shows a child feeding an alpaca. [Photo/Official Wechat account of Ministry of Civil Affairs]

Thanks to a "small zoo" established in October, children from a welfare house in Qingdao, Shandong province can see the animals even without leaving their rooms, Jimu News reported.

The Qingdao Children's Welfare House accommodates 127 children, with 92 percent of them having severe disabilities, according to Cui Xueqing, head of the welfare house."The zoo is located near the buildings where the children live and they can observe animals through the windows even while lying in bed," Cui said.

When talking about the reasons for building the zoo, Cui shared the story of a 16-year-old boy in the welfare home whom he often visited last year, especially during the time the boy's health condition deteriorated.

"During one visit when his condition had temporarily improved, I asked him what he wants to do after recovery, and he said wants to see animals," Cui recalled. Then Cui promised that he would take him to the zoo after he recovered. However, the next day, the boy suddenly became critically ill and died shortly after being sent to the hospital.

"I deeply regretted that he had gone away with unfulfilled wishes," Cui said.

According to Cui, most children living in the welfare home suffer from congenital diseases, and some even need assistance for basic movements like turning over in bed.

Noticing the children's longing for animals, Cui decided to establish a small zoo in the welfare house, to bring more joy to the children.

With the support of some compassionate businesses, the welfare home now has small animals such as ponies, goats, alpacas and peacocks. "They are also responsible for monthly vaccinations, and the feed for the animals is donated by kind-hearted people," Cui said.

"Our welfare home has also arranged for an experienced animal caregiver to take care of the animals full-time," Cui added.

"Whenever the weather is good, our staff will take the children to the zoo to interact with the animals and provide detailed explanations about animal behaviors to the children," said Yang Suhong, the director of the nursing department of the welfare house. "I can feel their happiness. And through interactions with animals, their language abilities, observational skills and imagination are also improved," said Yang.

The photo shows a staff leading children to watch sika deers. [Photo/Official Wechat account of Ministry of Civil Affairs]

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