Teddy Bear Clinic at Nashville Zoo gives offers toy repairs, chance for kids to learn

Teddy Bear Clinic
Posted at 9:39 AM, Mar 07, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — NASHVILLE, Tenn. — There was a flurry of activity Saturday inside the Nashville Zoo's veterinary center.

"I fixed a lot of the fur babies today," said Dr. Heather Schwartz, the director of veterinary services at the Nashville Zoo.

Concerned kids watched from the vet center's operating room as their favorite toys went under the knife, only to be stuffed back up with love.

Schwartz typically operates on real animals at the Nashville Zoo. But over the weekend, she played the role of surgeon for kids' stuffed companions.

It was all part of the Nashville Zoo's Teddy Bear Clinic, which allowed children to bring in their favorite stuffed animals and toys for repairs.

"It's a place where they can come and actually get them doctored and repaired because they fall apart, too, or have injuries," Schwartz said. "I love the stories of why they're injured. I had a monkey that danced too much."

Thankfully, not all of the patients come in with critical injuries. 3-year-old Phinn Slowey's T-Rex was in need of a little shine service.

"His teeth are not clean," Phinn told a nurse.

Other toys came in for a quick physical — bandages for an injury or vaccinations from cooties. While the cuteness overload is the main draw, the real purpose of the clinic was educational.

"We saw it when it was constructed, but this is our first time in it," said Shelby Slowey, Phinn's mother.

It was a rare chance for parents and kids to actually get inside the veterinarian center and see how it works.

"I just really like that we can inspire them to look at careers and see all the jobs that are offered in zoos and with animals and hopefully inspire them to care about animals in the future," Schwartz said.

If the real animals get just a fraction of the love doctors showed in the Teddy Bear Clinic operating room, they're surely in good hands.

This story was originally published by Chris Davis on Scripps station WTVF in Nashville.