Petting zoos open in Minsk. Three such zoos opened recently: in late August — in the Titan Shopping Centre (Dzerzhinsky Avenue); not long ago — in the Tivali Shopping Centre (Pritytsky Street); and at the Europe Trading Centre (Surganov Street). Another zoo will open in November, in Kamennaya Gorka.
It seems that urban petting zoos are all the rage in Belarus, with many delighting in having their photo taken with slightly exotic ‘pets’, such as raccoons. However, others are displeased, believing that the environment isn’t a healthy one for wild creatures.
It cannot be denied that spending time with animals is often the best therapy, especially for children who are unwell or handicapped.
Psychologists and doctors agree that children’s recovery from illness is often helped by spending time with animals; this is particularly true of creatures that don’t mind being stroked.
The idea is being promoted in Belarus, where the group Strana Yenotia (Raccoon Country) have been responsible for launching the project. They explain that several trial sessions were organized with disabled children initially, and an increasing number of applications are now being received from orphanages, inviting raccoons, coatis and other small animals to meet the children.
Recently, the first group of 15, from Minsk’s boarding school #7 (which is home to some children with Down syndrome), had the chance to welcome the furry animals. Applications are expected from various charity organisations, including those helping children suffering from anxiety and mental illness. With this in mind, disabled children are able to visit such zoos free of charge, at any time.
By Olga Pasiyak