The Dallas Zoo is partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association to offer a new opportunity for individuals with early-stage dementia to reconnect with nature and wildlife. The new program is called Wild Gatherings and invites people with early-stage dementia to come to the zoo and engage in memory care through interactions with animals and nature.
It’s been found that spending time among animals and nature can be therapeutic, and the Wild Gatherings program aims to offer people with early-stage dementia a chance to reconnect with their childhood memories of nature, animals, or zoo visits.
Wild Gatherings events include private zoo tours, hands on activities and crafts, and even an up-close, personal interaction with one of the zoo’s many ambassador animals. Each Wild Gatherings program offers a different theme and experience for participants through focusing on specific species.
Already, the Wild Gatherings program has been a huge success. “Animals can have a healing effect on people, and we see it with these folks – their eyes light up in amazement as they connect with our animals,” says Tonya McDaniel, the Dallas Zoo’s Education Supervisor for Family and Intergenerational Learning. “We’ve met some incredible people through this program. The family of one of our regular participants, who recently passed away, included the zoo in his obituary as a place of fellowship that helped him cope with his vascular dementia.”
To register for a Wild Gatherings program, visit communityresourcefinder.org through the Alzheimer’s Association or call 1-800-272-3900. Upcoming Wild Gatherings events will be held on March 25, April 22, and May 20.
The Dallas Zoo has been accredited continuously by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums since 1985 and has been named one of the nation’s Top 10 Zoos by USA Today. The Dallas Zoo currently offers the largest zoological experience in Texas.
The Dallas Zoo is located at 650 S. R.L. Thornton Freeway, Dallas, TX 75203. For more information call 469.554.7500 or email [email protected].