Zoos from California to Illinois are going to great lengths to allow kids with disabilities unique access to some of the wildest animals on the planet.
In what may be the most extreme example, the Oregon Zoo in Portland, Ore. recently offered children with visual impairments the opportunity to touch a Siberian tiger who was sedated for her physical, reports The Wall Street Journal. The children got to run their hands through the giant cat’s fur and along her sandpaper-like tongue.
In addition to the tiger, the Oregon Zoo program offers access to other large animals like elephants.
Though there are risks, one of the event organizers, Lisa McConachie, told the newspaper that such encounters are important for kids with limited or no vision who “can’t access anything outside their arms’ reach.”