In the wake of growing numbers of injured soldiers returning from conflict in the east, the Ukrainian Black Sea city of Odessa has called upon dolphins for help.
The dolphins at Odessa's Nemo Centre help treat learning difficulties and post-traumatic stress disorder, both of which have limited recognition in Ukraine.
In September the centre hosted a group of soldiers diagnosed with PTSD, with dolphin trainer and counsellor Yuri Mishkurov reporting positive results when he spoke with the Guardian. Although he couldn't say how many of the 15 veterans had made a full recovery, he affirmed that “it's an effective experience because after the therapy they feel positive emotions”.
“It doesn't matter whether you are an adult or a child — if you spend time in the pool with this big and friendly animal you will feel better,” added Bogdan Popovski, who has headed up the therapy programme for ten years.
The centre's staff, which includes five psychologists, claim that there is strong historical evidence to suggest that animals can aid mental and physical rehabilitation, although some clinical experts disagree on the alleged benefits, with others voicing strong concern over ethical issues. According to animal rights NGO Born Free, Ukraine is one of only three European countries (together with Russia and Spain) to still keep dolphins or whales in captivity.
Source: The Guardian