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Yong Ai and Nick take their golden retriever, Murphy, to an Old Folks' Home in Cheras, twice a week. The residents welcome Murphy with great delight. His visit is at 5 p.m. but long before that hour, the residents ask to be wheeled to the garden to wait for the dog. Treats from lunch have been carefully saved for 'Murf", as the residents affectionately like to call him.

Murphy is a friendly and gentle dog. He weighs nearly 40 kg but somehow, like all intelligent animals, he is instinctively gentle around old folks. When playing with his owners, he often leaves bruises on their arms and legs but he has yet to do that with any of the residents. Murphy is not the only visitor. Other dogs, cats and hamsters are frequent visitors. Murphy's visit is part of an experimental program called Zoo Therapy.

Zoo Therapy probably has its origins in the United States. It refers to the use of animals in the care and rehabilitation of humans. It has been found to be very effective with disturbed children and often is a success as young children are naturally drawn to animals. The idea, when first introduced in medical journals, got immediate support in countries like the United States and Europe where people keep a lot of pets. So it is easy to see that there is a strong bond between humans and many animals species.

Medical research shows that stroking a pet reduces blood pressure and lowers pulse rates. Taking care of animals helps promote longevity in human beings. In one case, a severely arthritic woman, Tania, was on her deathbed. Her grandson brought his cat with him when he came to nurse her. the old lady, who had never wanted pets, developed an interest in the animal. When it was time for her grandson to leave, she persuaded him to leave his cat behind. He returned with two kittens. In a matter of a week, Tania, who had been bedridden, left her bed. She had a reason to live looking after her new charges and survived another six years in relative good health.

But it is for emotionally disturbed patients that animals have shown their greatest worth. In mental health clinics, cats and dogs are often used to monitor the patient's condition and assist in their progress. A child psychiatrist, Dr Aline, was treating a boy with severe autism -- a condition where the patient does not respond to his environment. His parents thought that Mark, who was six years old, was severely retarded and should have been institutionalized. He could not speak. He showed no affection and often had violent temper tantrums where he hurt himself and those around him. Dr Aline suspected severe trauma but made no progress. The, one day, she left the child alone to attend to an urgent matter. Her pet Labrador was in the room. When she returned, she found Mark playing with her dog. It was the first time she had seen him smile. he had shown affection instead of fear or hostility. It was the beginning of a breakthrough for Mark and Dr Aline. She had helped to prove that the use of therapeutic tools in the form of gentle animals such as rabbits, cats and good-tempered dogs promoted the well-being of mentally ill patients.

Zoo Therapy has also been successfully used in the rehabilitation of hard-core prisoners. Wardens reported that many violent criminals became as gentle as kittens in the presence of animals.

Monkeys, horses and fish have been used in Zoo Therapy. In Florida, dolphins have been used to help severely handicapped people. Dolphins are very useful in giving confidence to brain-damaged children during water exercises. Many of these intelligent animals are very protective and gentle. There is nothing like a good-natured animal to inspire people to come out of a depression and enjoy life again.

Certain animals can be trained to be more than passive therapeutic tools. Guide dogs are the best example. They serve their blind owners with amazing dedication. These Seeing Eye dogs give their owners a chance to live close to normal lives by making it possible to move outside their homes independently. But they are not actual pets. They are working animals. Although they are treated very well, owners are encouraged to be fair but firm with them. when for some reason, their owners no longer need them, they are often returned to the training schools to help others in need. It takes a lot of time and money to train the Seeing Eye dogs.

There are also companion dogs for people with other handicaps apart from blindness. Some dogs accompany their owners to school, carry their books and even check out books at library counters their physically handicapped owners cannot reach. Capuchin monkeys have proved very useful companions to paraplegics. they can fetch and carry objects, open and close doors, push buttons, press bells and switches, and flip switches on computers. These wiry monkeys are light, agile and intelligent. They are also easy to train. their owners also have to be very firm with them as their usefulness depends entirely on their being disciplined and obedient.

Companion animals are indeed a boon to the disabled. They make it possible for the disabled to lead as normal a life as possible. The love they give is unconditional and cannot be measured. Unlike human beings, their only reward is the kindness shown to them in the shape of snacks, pats on the head and words of encouragement and this seems to be enough.


Based on the passage given, write a summary:

of what is zoo therapy and how different animals help the ill and disabled


Your summary must:

be in continuous writing ( not in note form )

not be longer than 130 words, including the 10 words given below


Begin your summary as follow:

Zoo therapy refers tot he use of animals in the ...

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Zoo Therapy refers to the use of animals in the care and rehabilitation of humans. It ahs proven effective with young children, especially the emotionally disturbed. Medical research proves that taking care of pets promotes longevity in humans. Dogs have helped children with severe autism. Gentle animals like cats and rabbits calm mentally ill patients. Animals also help rehabilitate hardcore prisoners. Dolphins help the severely handicapped in water exercises. Many animals are not just therapeutic tools but are actually working animals like guide dogs for the blind, companion dogs for the physically handicapped and Capuchin monkeys for paraplegics. These animals help their owners move safely from one place to another, fetch and carry objects, manipulate appliances, etc. These companion animals help the disabled to lead almost normal lives. (128 words)

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