THERAPY alpaca Ed Sheeran was at Beaudesert Hospital with his mate Pancake to visit patients and staff yesterday.
As the furry friends navigated their way through the wards, they seemed to know their way around the hospital.
The happiness they brought with them was visible on the faces of patients and visitors from the waiting room to the maternity unit.
The alpacas paused along the way for photos and selfies with anyone who asked.
Under the guidance of their handlers Jenny and Steve Pack from Mount View Alpaca Farm at O’Reilly’s Vineyard in Canungra, Ed Sheeran and Pancake were once again able to bring cheer and optimism to the medical wards.
Ms Pack said the animals were naturally toilet trained and contrary to popular opinion did not make a habit of spitting at people.
She said they had started the monthly visits after they were contacted by Beaudesert Hospital to ask if they might bring the alpacas in to replace the Delta Dogs program.
“Apparently the lady who used to bring the dogs in had retired and they wondered if Alpacas might do the job,” she said.
The alpacas had been shorn for summer and seemed excited to see their reflections in the full length mirrors of the physiotherapy unit before going home.
Beaudesert Hospital acting nursing and midwifery director Matt Quinn said the animals motivated patients who found themselves in hospital for whatever reason.
“The visits bring joy you can see on people’s faces,” he said.
“We have seen people with very little mobility get up out of bed when they see them coming.”
Mr Quinn said the alpaca visits raised morale for doctors, nurses and staff too.
“They bring a nice happy mood to the hospital,” he said.
Beaudesert is the only hospital in Australia to have alpacas as part of the Delta pet program, which usually involves dogs.