Alpacas have joined the list of regular visitors to a Queensland hospital in a bid to brighten the day of sick patients.
The animals are taken to the Beaudesert Hospital, south of Brisbane, once a month as part of the Delta Pet program, which aims to bring the happiness associated with animal companionship to those who need it most.
The cute creatures have made three visits so far, with alpacas named Ed Sheeran, Tim Tam and Pancake, among those which have wandered the halls of the hospital and cheered up patients at their bedside.
“It is priceless to see the shock and the joy on the faces of our patients as well as the staff when they see – and hear – the sweet creatures coming directly into the wards,” Nursing and Midwifery Director Jacquie Smith said.
Ms Smith said introducing the animals was a an exciting but lengthy process.
It’s believed Beaudesert is the only hospital in the country to have alpacas as part of a pet therapy program.
“Tourist alpacas were visiting the local nursing home so we jumped on that unique bandwagon and invited them along to come and see our patients and family and staff at Beaudesert Hospital,” Ms Smith said in a video which was shared online by Metro South Health.
“We thought this was a very unique thing for Beaudesert to have as therapy animals. It’s uplifting, it has benefits to health for our patients.”
Steve from Mountview Alpaca Farm at Canungra said it is great to see the look on people’s faces when the spot the animals.
“We copped it hard during Cyclone Debbie,” he said.
The community gave us a fair bit of support. So we thought this was a good opportunity to give a little bit back, take the guys in to see the patients.”
One patient named Elka said in the online video that she loved having the visitors.
“It’s the most beautiful animal I’ve ever seen in my whole life,” Elka said.
And many other social media users who watched footage of one visit on Facebook thought it was a “pretty cool” idea.
“Animals are very healing,” one person wrote.
“I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on work for the rest of the day,” said another.
“I am suddenly so sick I think I need to go to Beaudesert Hospital,” another person joked.