Neve Hanna’s petting zoo attracts children as well as adults from the entire area. A variety of animals inhabit it, including hamsters, gerbils, goats, rabbits, mules, snakes, iguanas, turtles, fish, parrots, geese, hens, peacocks, meerkats and many more.
For Neve Hanna children, this is much more than a place where they can watch, feed and pet the animals. It is the place where they have animal-assisted therapy. During therapy, animal-assisted therapists watch children interact with the animals and interpret their behavioral patterns. Through the interaction between the animal and the child a vast variety of issues is addressed without the need for verbal expression.
Theory: Many children, especially those who suffer from mental disturbances, are naturally and totally connected to animals. Using the animal, the child can “send” messages out of their own world to the therapist.
Animal therapy is based upon a “triangle” of therapeutic communication: the therapist – the animal – the patient. The animal is a mediator, and it enables a bi-directional and meaningful work. During the therapy the “human” qualities of the animal in a manner that can reflect and be parallel to the child’s feelings.
The Healing Potential: The “triangle” between the therapist, the animal and the patient, forms unique situations: The connection with the animal is based upon non-verbal communication, yet feelings can be expressed.
New and unknown situations are formed in the presence of the animal and these demand an immediate response from the child. The child is required to get closer and trust the animal. Thus, a relation of honesty is formed [first of all with the animal], and although it does not include verbal communication, it encourages a healthy mental development of the child.
Animals do not criticize and do not “pass out grades”. The child develops a relationship with them, without tensions or expectations. Thus, they have a feeling of success which strengthens their self image and assists in other fields of life.