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Surprise visitors put a smile on the faces of residents at Tonna Hospital

Hospital resident meets alpaca

Residents at Tonna Hospital had a reason to smile when some surprise guests paid a visit. 

Eric the alpaca and Oreo the Shetland pony paid a visit to raise the spirits of residents at the mental health facility for the elderly.

And the docile duo also proved popular with relatives coming to visit – children in particular.  

Ward clerk Sian Herbert said: “I thought it would be a bit of fun and something different for the patients.

“Some of them have never seen an alpaca before.

“They get enjoyment out of it and it’s good for their mental health. You can see on the smiles on their faces how happy they are to meet the animals.”

Hospital resident meets alpaca

The two animals made their visit courtesy of Bedrock Alpaca Visits, based in Merthyr Tydfil.

Owner Steve Jones regularly takes the pair to a host of venues, as well as to birthday parties and weddings.

He said: “They are therapeutic animals. People get so much out of seeing them.

“Eric has been to almost 100 care homes over the last year alone.

“People with dementia see them and get excited. Often, they’ve never seen one before, and it cheers them up no end.

“I took Eric to see a resident in a care home a while ago. He hasn’t spoken for five years, but ever since our visit he has started saying  ‘Eric’.

“It shows how positively people respond to them.”

The animals’ visit was funded by a ward donation. 



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