Your house is gone, you’re living in a shelter, and you don’t have a firm idea of when you’ll be able have a home of your own again. This is the situation thousands of survivors of Japan’s March 11th disaster still face. And at times like these, the softness, warmth and unconditional love of a pet is often the perfect therapy. Well thanks to a robotic baby seal named Paro, numerous earthquake and tsunami survivors have been getting the chance to know the affection and attention of a cuddly, fuzzy animal just when they need it the most. Paro is an untethered robot equipped with sensors and artificial intelligence which makes him (her?) responsive to human touch. The little robo-seal was introduced in Japan seven years ago to give elderly folks who live where pets aren’t allowed the chance to benefit from the soothing, therapeutic effects which human-animal contact very often provides. At the link, you’ll see video of March 11th survivors interacting with Paro, and find yourself smiling and maybe even tearing up a little. (BBC Asia-Pacific – Baby Robot Seal Gives Comfort) For further reading, you can go here to learn how Paro has been used in a Connecticut mental-health residence to treat people with dementia and Alzheimer’s.