There's therapy, and then there's bunny therapy.
Nutmeg and Clovis, 4-and-a-half-year-old rabbits that live on the 13th floor of NYU Langone Medical Center, have just the medicine for patients in need of a cuddle.
“We’ve seen patients that literally had no affect smile,” said Gwenn Fried, manager of horticultural therapy services at NYU Langone. “Their whole demeanor changes.”
Sometimes doctors recommend the rabbits, and sometimes, the patients ask to see them, Fried said. And they’re not just popular among children. Adults want to see Nutmeg and Clovis, too.
Although volunteers with therapy dogs visit NYU Langone on occasion, the bunnies belong to the hospital as part of a program that’s 12 years old, Fried said.
There’s something therapeutic about taking care of an animal, Fried said, adding that she’s seen Clovis and Nutmeg work their magic on many patients over the years.
“One dad just said, ‘I really think Clovis changed our lives,’” Fried said. “He’s the most patient animal I’ve ever seen in my life.”