Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Delighting in Ducklings; Annual Visit from Mallards Gives Residents of Friendship Village Some Nature Therapy

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Delighting in Ducklings; Annual Visit from Mallards Gives Residents of Friendship Village Some Nature Therapy

Article excerpt

Each spring, a pair of mallard ducks settle at Friendship Village, a Chesterfield senior living community. Residents and staff get pleasure from watching the ducks thrive year after year in a place where new life is unexpected.

The male duck eventually leaves, while the female builds a nest in a bush in the courtyard garden. She lays one egg a day. This year, the female had nine ducklings. The mother and her ducklings stay in the courtyard until the babies are big enough to fly. While the ducks get a place to live and grow, the residents get a form of animal therapy.

"There's an interaction with fresh air and nature in a beautiful spot, and just life on a different level," said Carol Miller, who works with the living center's communication department. Miller's parents moved to the senior living community a few years ago. Miller said she loved watching the ducks with her father until he died last November. She said the ducks brought her father joy and were something special between the two of them. Now, her mother is just as excited about seeing the ducks.

Studies have shown that contact with animals promotes relaxation and can have health benefits. The residents do not name the ducks , but they do consider them to be like pets. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and feelings of loneliness, as well as increase socialization.

Jami Roberts, a social worker at Friendship Village, said watching the mama duck with her ducklings gets the residents talking about their own children. In turn, the residents are more social and have something to look forward to each day.

'PURE JOY'

Each morning, before life at Friendship Village is in full swing, the ducks come out to play. The "mama" duck as the residents call her, leads her brood to the clearing in the courtyard where residents have set up a pool a clear storage container where water is constantly flowing from a garden hose. …

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