If you’re looking to de-stress during exam season, there’s nothing better than cute, cuddly animals to take your mind off things. But this year, the most popular therapy animal at Western might surprise you.
The Facebook event titled “THERAPY SNAKES in the Mustang Lounge!” currently has 2,700 people invited, 2,200 people interested and a whopping 2,100 people confirmed as going. Compare this to the therapy dogs event, with a mere 373 students attending.
There’s one unfortunate difference, though: the therapy snakes aren’t real. Yet.
Sean Cousins, fourth-year biology and Ivey student, is the host of the event. You might know him as the creator and curator of the popular Facebook page “Geese of Western.”
“I don’t know how it happened,” says Cousins. “I saw therapy dogs and just thought — therapy snakes. I invited 100 people, mostly my friends, and then it escalated.”
But now, he feels he has the opportunity to do something with this following. The expectations of over 2,000 Western students rests on his shoulders. The question is: could therapy snakes become a reality?
“From the looks of this particular Facebook page, it’s a joke event,” says Kevin Hurren, communications officer for the University Students’ Council. “However, we can definitely facilitate an event like this. If a student group came forward and decided they wanted to [organize] the event, there are ways we can make it happen.”
The process would be the same as with therapy dogs. Anyone hoping to bring animals on campus needs to give the University insurance from an organization — St. Joseph's Hospital is the program for the dogs, for example. The USC would have to find an appropriate space for the animals, perhaps in a basement room of the UCC.
“I feel like this has gotten so big that it could be an actual event,” says Cousins. “But we would need a club or a council to take on the cost of it. It doesn’t even have to be a relevant club, you just have to be willing to get some snakes.”
Already a number of people have taken the event seriously, which is surprising given the sorts of things Cousins has posted on the page.
Cousins posted answers in his characteristically quirky demeanour to frequently asked questions, including one regarding the agency that will be providing the snakes. He claims he is the sole provider.
"Me. I am bringing the snakes," Cousins writes on the Facebook event. "Recently, I acquired a large quantity of snakes on the dark web. The details of this transaction are NOT important. DO NOT ask me about it, okay? Just know that I will be bringing the snakes myself."
He seems to have a peculiar skill set for this sort of social media phenomenon, but he maintains it’s not intentional. However, it’s started to affect his day-to-day life, lending him a pseudo-celebrity status.
Last week, when he walked into a lab, Cousins heard a girl refer to him as “the snake guy” to her friend. He suspects he saw someone taking a photo of him, too, though he can’t be sure — it was “one of those zoomed in creep shots,” he says.
“I don’t regret making the page, but I feel like I’ve branded myself as the snake guy now,” he explains. “Even more so than the geese, because my personal profile is attached to this. I feel like people are lurking my profile.”