VALLEY CENTER, Calif. — At a California animal sanctuary, otters and children are swimming together. But this isn’t just a cute romp in the pool.
“Put your arms out… they’re gonna crawl on you!”
7-year old Hannah Evans is having a great time with her two new friends – Poppy and Lilly.
“It’s at the pool, having fun, and it was like being so cute!!!”
Hannah has a life-threatening gastrointestinal disorder. Her play pals are therapy otters, trained to interact with children with severe or terminal illnesses.
“It was awesome, the hands on experience with the animals has just been great,” says Hannah’s father, Paul Evans.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation arranged her visit to the animal sanctuary “Nurtured by Nature.”
Kevin Yates is one of the founders. “The most important thing is to give them a positive day where they are free of thinking about maybe the pain or the illness or the treatment that they’re going through…it’s super important to treat the psyche and to have a good outlook, especially when you’re in pain or your sick or scared..”
The swim gave Hannah a boost. “The otters!… that was really cute!”
It’s a memory her parents say she’ll carry close to her heart – on days she needs comfort the most.
Anyone can swim with the otters at ‘Nurtured by Nature’, for a price.
The organization uses the money they raise through paid swims to fund all their Make-A-Wish visits.
(Chris Martinez, CBS News)