R.1, R.3, L.3

Why Is This Pig at the Airport?

LiLou isn’t getting on a plane. She’s there to help travelers.  

Courtesy of San Francisco International Airport (all photos)

LiLou is the first airport therapy pig. She helps nervous travelers feel better—sometimes by wearing funny costumes. 

    Airplanes are jammed with passengers. Airports are busy and loud. Flights are delayed. Passengers and airline staff argue. 

    Air travel has never been more stressful than it is today.  

    But one airport in California has found a new way to help travelers. Meet LiLou, the country’s first airport therapy pig. She’s just one of thousands of therapy animals across the country. 

    What exactly do therapy animals do? Therapy animals like LiLou help sick, sad, or worried people feel better. These animals have to be sweet and calm by nature—and then they go through hours of training. 

    Therapy animals learn to ignore loud noises and running children. They get used to crowds, hospital equipment, and many people petting them at once. After they master those skills, therapy animals are ready to go to work.

    Experts say therapy animals can help people in hospitals, schools, and nursing homes. Petting a therapy animal can relax you by making your heart beat slower. It can even boost your endorphins—the chemicals in your brain that make you feel happy. 

    Most therapy animals are dogs or cats. But miniature horses have been used to comfort people after hurricanes and tornadoes. Therapy alpacas snuggle up to people in wheelchairs. Therapy rabbits soothe sick kids in hospitals. 

    And of course, there are therapy pigs like LiLou. Anxious travelers forget their worries when they see her. She makes people of all ages smile and laugh.

    So the next time you’re feeling stressed at the airport, don’t worry. Just look for a pig in a fancy hat to help you relax. 


Mini Skills Workout

Find two words in the text that mean “stressed.” 

How does LiLou help travelers at the airport?

Find a sentence in the article that describes what therapy animals learn in training. Write it here:

Skills Sheets (1)