A youngster has taken steps to overcome her selective mutism by speaking to her mother after a close encounter experience with the sloths at Drusillas.
Earlier this week, little Willow Parkhouse, aged nine, travelled from her home in Devon to take part in a sloth encounter at Drusillas Park.
Willow has selective mutism but after her amazing animal experience, found her voice and told her mum it was ‘the best thing I have ever done’.
Tina Parkhouse, Willow’s mum, said, “Willow has selective mutism, but when she came out of the encounter, she said it was the best thing she has ever done.”
“Willow also has dyscalculia which means she finds it difficult to process the time and speed of things. She is therefore slower at a lot of things, but this is why she has a massive love for sloths.”
With the assistance of Drusillas’ zoo keeper, Peter Holmes, Willow was able to come face to face with her favourite animal while hand feeding them.
Sophocles and Curly, Drusillas resident sloths, were thrilled to see Willow and came all the way down from their sleeping nook to say hi and receive some snacks.
Tina Parkway added: “Willow had a massive smile and was talking for ages about her experience.
“I was quite emotional to see how happy and chatty it had made her. It really made her dream come true and we will always cherish the memories of her special day.
“We just want to say thank you to Peter and all the staff at Drusillas for making this special moment happen.”
Sophie Leadbitter, head keeper at Drusillas, said: “We are really blown away by Tina and Willow’s lovely reaction to the sloth encounter.
“Everyone always has an amazing experience when they visit our sloths and we get such positive feedback, but this encounter in particular was really special for us too.
“The Parkhouse’s were such a nice family, and I think we all got a bit emotional hearing Tina’s words.”
Drusillas’s close encounter experiences are available to buy in addition to the ticket price. If you would like to take part in a close encounter with one of Drusillas’s sloths visit www.drusillas.co.uk/close-encounters.