The therapeutic quality of animals: Ariel’s Ark


By Lynn Marrero

The therapeutic quality of animals is very soothing, especially for those individuals with disabilities. I don’t know what it is; maybe it’s the fact that animas don’t judge you. They don’t care what your I.Q. is or whether you can walk or talk, see or hear, or what you look like. They just love you unconditionally.

For my daughter Ariel they are her happiness.


You see, Ariel used to be your typical normal girl and then when she turned nine everything changed. She suddenly no longer knew her shapes, like circles and squares, and didn’t even know the alphabet any more. It was all very strange and she kept declining. We discovered she had a genetic disorder that causes regression. Then she started having seizures and, more recently, her stomach shut down and stopped working properly. She also started having a lot of sensory issues, being afraid of loud noises and crowds and different things. I desperately wanted her to come out of her shell and was trying to wrack my brain thinking of what we could do to help her, as nothing was working.

Ariel has several pets at home and has always loved being around animals. She’s always carrying around her puppy or Guinea pig or any animals she can find. Of all her pets Ariel’s baby is her little Shih Tzu, ShiFu. She adores him and spends every waking moment snuggling him, kissing him and loving on him. Due to the way her disabilities affect her, Ariel does not really grasp the concept of time very well, so ShiFu has a birthday party about every other month! Complete with cupcakes and toys.

He is her happiness.

When Ariel is down with seizures or not feeling well, ShiFu will not leave her side. Anytime she is down, there he is laying on her or beside her, to comfort her and give her love. When she cries or is upset about something he is there licking her face and giving her kisses to let her know he cares. He has been her constant companion for over four years now. As her health has declined in the last year he’s been there all the more. He was quite upset with us this past year as Ariel spent a good two months in the hospital. But he is back with her now and no two could love each other more.

Ariel had asked me if we could work at the zoo. I thought there was no way, but noticed they had a number to call. I called and that very day we were scheduled for an interview. The gal couldn’t have been kinder. Ariel’s two brothers also have this same syndrome, but it hasn’t affected them as badly cognitively as it has her. We started working at the zoo in September of last year and when Ariel is there working she is like a different person.

I’m so proud of her the way she helps people out and tells them about the animals.


When we did ‘Zoo Boo’ she helped eight hundred people a day with scavenger hunts and for a girl that doesn’t like crowds, this was amazing. She’s worked in all sorts of areas around the zoo. She always works with me as cognitively she cannot be left alone, but she has helped lead Vet tours, worked the Santa dive, where he dives with the sharks, has made Budgie sticks to sell for the Parakeets, worked in the Walrus area with enrichments, done scavenger hunts with the kids, worked the touch tank with the stingrays, and many other areas in and around the zoo.

It’s just been a huge blessing for her.

In February she got very ill and her stomach stopped working. She spent eight weeks in the hospital and missed our formal zoo party and couldn’t work at her beloved zoo that made her so happy. She was so sad and upset.

That’s when the idea for Ariel’s Ark came about.

If she couldn’t go to the zoo we’d bring the zoo to her and create a page for her to showcase her love for animals, and hopefully have other animal lovers share, as well. So when she’s not at the zoo working due to seizures or illness, she’s at Ariel’s Ark telling everyone about her love of animals. Actually, she’s pretty much on there daily telling everyone of her love for animals and showing them pictures of her many friends. Animals have been a huge blessing and have made a huge difference in my daughter’s life as they do to all people who truly appreciate them. We hope you can visit her site and maybe share some of your animal adventures and friends with her.

Thank you, sincerely, Linn Marrero (Ariel’s mom)

Please like and say hi to Ariel! It will make a little girl’s day.

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