THEIR most famous appearance was in Netflix series The Crown, being fed titbits by Matt Smith in the role of Prince Philip. But three ‘showbiz’ penguins had an equally royal reception at a care home — making a 99-year-old’s dream come true.
Pint-sized Humboldt penguins Pringle, Groot and Charlie shook their tail feathers at Bernadette House in Lincoln, to the huge delight of residents including Joyce Gardner, whose request led to their visit.
I’ve always loved animals, especially penguins,’ she said. ‘To meet one in real life was one of the best experiences I’ve had.’
The feathery surprise was organised by care home owner Elizabeth Stephens, who tries to grant a wish for everyone there. She got in touch with Amazing Animals in Oxfordshire, whose 20 Humboldt penguins are used to being handled and working on camera or at events.
“Everyone had an absolutely wonderful time, including the penguins,’ said Elizabeth, whose past guests have included alpacas, dogs and chicks.
Elderly people, particularly those with dementia, have a special connection to animals. I think it’s because they are non-threatening and calming.”
Elizabeth talks to BBC Radio Lincolnshire
Alpacas are the most gentle of creatures and residents were delighted when this was used for therapeutic purposes with the visit of two alpacas, Teal and Bellamy, to the home.
Stroking an animal can provide important physical contact and many residents had never met an alpaca before. Not all residents enjoy organised activities but everyone was happy to see the alpacas on such a sunny day.
Alpacas have wonderfully calm and almost comical faces, which is perfect to lighten the spirits. They’re also the perfect height for residents to interact with, as no bending is required.