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"They are very
peaceful in the tank.
I feel so relaxed
when taking care of
them after a whole
While Leung says cats are the perfect pet for
a busy accountant, Alfred Chung, an auditor
at Grant Thornton and an Institute member,
thinks otherwise. "With some animals, they
require you to take care of them all the time.
And I'm very busy all the time especially peak
season when I finish around 1:00 a.m.," says
Chung, who has kept crystal red shrimp as
pets for about two years.
Of all the shrimp species, crystal red
shrimp are known to be the most sensitive to
water conditions -- a trait that drew Chung
into raising them in the first place. "I remem-
ber searching information about them on the
Internet beforehand. I was attracted to them
as this kind of shrimp is very sensitive to the
water, [but] they can easily breed," he says.
Starting with just four, Chung now has
11 crystal shrimp crawling around his tank.
He has a separate tank housing 10 cherry
shrimp -- a variety of freshwater shrimp origi-
nating from Taiwan. "I've always been fasci-
nated with the water, fish and other fresh-
water species. I plan to get more [shrimp], a
bigger tank and some mini lobsters," he says.
"What I like most about crystal shrimp is
the fact that every shrimp is unique in that
they have different patterns and colours.
They will change throughout their life de-
pending on how you look after them," he ex-
plains. "For example, the colour of the shell
will be less strong if they don't have enough
food. Their colour is a reflection of how
much you have cared for them."
Despite the challenges of taking care
of shrimp -- including constantly having to
monitor the water's chemical composition --
Chung's aquarium gives him instant access
to tranquility. "They are very peaceful in the
tank," he says. "I feel so relaxed when taking
care of them after a whole busy day."
How pets can
It has been long believed that the companionship of a pet
can be good for everyone including, of course, Hong Kong
Institute of CPAs members who have to cope with their
busy work life.
This idea has been fuelled by studies conducted over the
years on the relationship between animals and the well-being of
Last year, Deborah Wells, a psychologist at Queen's University
Belfast, examined the value of pets to human health for The
Psychologist, the official monthly publication of the British
Psychological Society, as part of her research on the therapeutic
benefits of animals.
Wells says that animals have the potential to contribute
significantly to our quality of lives and should not be overlooked
as an alternative, or complementary, form of therapy
in modern day healthcare practices.
"No one knows the exact mechanism underlying
the ability of pets to de-stress their owners, but quite
a few studies point to the action of stroking a pet
having a calming effect, helping to lower both blood
pressure and heart rate," Wells tells A Plus.
Psychologists say pets make ideal companions
for those with demanding jobs who need to wind
down. But Wells adds that having an animal in the
house can do much more than alleviate stress.
"Psychologically, pet ownership can also help
to boost self-esteem, feelings of self-worth and
A helping paw
Research has found that in comparison to other pets, dogs can
substantially ease the psychological pressures of their owners.
In a study by Colorado State University in the United States,
researchers monitored the levels of oxytocin -- a hormone with
stress-relieving properties that women typically produce in much
larger amounts than men -- of 20 dog owners after they had spent
time with their dogs after work compared with them reading.
Results found that for women, oxytocin increased 58 percent
with the dog and only 26 percent with quiet reading. For men,
oxytocin dropped 56 percent when reading and only 22 percent
after playing with the dog.
Wells agrees that owning a four-legged friend can be just as
beneficial as doing a spot of meditation or yoga. "Dogs are probably
more capable of boosting their owners well-being than cats, and,
in turn, both of these pets are more capable of boosting human
well-being than other types of companion animal," she explains.
With their infectious thirst for going on walks, dogs also help
to improve physical fitness, she adds. "[This] indirectly. .. helps to
increase social contacts."
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