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World's First Animatronic Animal Therapy Program Set to Open

Animal-assisted & Creative Therapies to help children with special needs

BRADENTON, Fla., May 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Animal-assisted & Creative Therapies (ACT) today announced plans to open a new 9-acre facility that will use animatronic animal therapy to assist in the development of children with special needs. Headed by renowned dolphin-assisted therapy researcher Dr. David Nathanson, the program is thought to be the first of its kind in the world. The center is set to open in December 2009.

The new iACT Center is a revamped and improved version of the well-known Dolphin Human Therapy (DHT) program, which, during its 12 years of operation, used live dolphins to provide therapy to more than 4,000 children and adults with special needs from 60 countries. The 9 acre facility on Florida's Gulf Coast will also feature a sensory trail, miniature horses, therapy dogs, art, music and parent training.

iACT will employ a Therapeutic Animatronic Dolphin (TAD) to mimic the reinforcing effects of a live dolphin's interaction with patients.

TAD was built by special effects artists Animal Makers, who have developed life-like animals for films that include Ace Ventura and Pirates of the Caribbean.

"I believe this is the first therapy program in the world to use an animatronic animal to produce measurable improvements in special needs children and adults with disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and other diagnoses," Dr. Nathanson said.

Dr. Nathanson's research has demonstrated that TAD is as effective as live dolphin-assisted therapy when used as a reward in therapy, increasing attention and motivation and providing a safer, more controlled environment with which to engage in therapy.

"Although my daughter had been in therapy twice before with real dolphins, she responded in a way to TAD that we could have never dreamed possible," said Rosie Petrozzino, the mother of a child with special needs that participated in a study to determine the effectiveness of animatronic animal-assisted therapy. "The opening of the iACT Center is a remarkable opportunity for any child with disabilities to realize their true potential by working with TAD."

For more information on the ACT Center, visit

To see video of animatronic animal-assisted therapy, visit the following link:


About the iACT Center

Animal-assisted & Creative Therapies (iACT) is a private company providing individualized therapy and rehabilitation for special needs children and adults. ACT is the advanced and improved program developed by Dr. David Nathanson as part of the evolution of his previous company, Dolphin Human Therapy (DHT).

About Dr. David Nathanson

David E. Nathanson, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist with more than 40 years of experience in research and clinical work with people and families with special needs. Dr. Nathanson has been working with dolphins and children with special needs since 1979 - the last 15 years in a full time capacity. His areas of expertise include developmental disabilities and behavioral medicine. Dr. Nathanson is a retired professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at Florida International University. He has written dozens of professional articles in books and journals, and has lectured at professional conferences in many countries.

    Contact:   William Whitaker
               o.: 520.232.9840 / c.: 520.419.5384 /

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