Zoo to host ‘Stuff and Stitch’ to repair stuffed animals


The Hattiesburg Zoo is giving kids – and even adults – an opportunity to return their ripped or damaged stuffed animals to good-as-new status with the upcoming Doc McHannon Stuff & Stitch event next week.

During the event, which will be held from 10 a.m. until noon Feb. 15 at the zoo, zoo veterinarian Dr. David McHannon will be on hand to perform emergency surgery on any damaged stuffed animals provided by zoo patrons.

“What we’re offering is for kids, or anyone, to come in and bring in their old stuffed animals that they would like to have ‘repaired or diagnosed,’” said Demetric Kelly, who serves as the zoo’s business operations coordinator. “So it’s kind of a nice thing to do around Valentine’s Day.

“And we just decided to give the zoo vet some fun attention, rather than having to focus on all the real animals’ needs that we have going on at the zoo. So it’s kind of a little fun, playful thing for us to do with the zoo vet.”

McHannon will check all vitals on stuffed animals, along with fixing rips, tears and small holes and giving them a good “fluff.” Once they are back in tip-top shape, the stuffed animals will receive a clean bill of health, an official doctor’s excuse and a special zoo bandage for their “injuries.”

“And then we’ll have staff there in the Asbury Discovery Center re-enacting a real clinic,” Kelly said. “So we’re just going to have a themed clinic at the Asbury for about two hours off and on that Saturday, just to give people a little ‘happy’ as they leave.”

Zoo attendees also will be able to adopt one of the zoo’s real animals or purchase a new stuffed animal and will receive a personalized animal adoption certificate. All proceeds from that endeavor will benefit the expansion of the zoo’s sloth exhibit.

Waffles on a stick also will be available for purchase.

The event, which is sponsored by Hattiesburg Clinic Connections, is included with regular zoo admission, and annual passes apply.

“We’ve had a lot of feedback – a lot of our Facebook and social media followers, they think it’s a really cute idea and a really nice event,” Kelly said. “So we’ve had a good response to it on Facebook.”

Although the Doc McHannon Stuff & Stitch will initially be held as a one-off event, it may return in the future depending on turnout.

“It may come back if we have a nice turnout,” Kelly said. “So it’s probably something we’ll do kind of throughout the year more often, or maybe once or twice a year.”