News Flash


Posted on: June 18, 2019

Kids and Animals

Girl petting goat

Petting zoos are a popular spot for children during the summer and fall. While learning about animals and how to interact with them is fun and valuable, it’s also important to remember that animals can expose children to potentially serious illnesses. E. coli, salmonella, giardia, and worms are among the 30-plus diseases that can be spread by animals. Some children also may have allergic reactions to animals.

Keep children (and adults) healthy when interacting with animals by following these tips:

  • Before taking children to a petting zoo, visit it yourself to make sure the enclosures are cleaned regularly, the animals appear healthy and non-aggressive, and washing stations are easily accessible and stocked with soap and sanitizer.
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and running water after touching an animal or going into an animal’s living space.
  • Eat snacks or meals in an area that is separate from all animals, after washing hands thoroughly. It’s best to eat before petting the animals.
  • Make sure children are supervised and that they don’t attempt to kiss the animals, share food or toys with the animals, or put their fingers in their mouths after touching animals.
  • Do not bring baby equipment such as strollers, bottles, pacifiers, or blankets into animal enclosures.
  • In child care settings, do not have chicks, ducklings, amphibians, or reptiles visit the facility if there are children under the age of five.

Even animals that appear healthy can have germs in their hair or fur, mouth, manure, drinking water, or habitat. Assume every animal carries germs that could make you ill. Approach animals with respect and caution, as even normally non-aggressive animals can be provoked into biting or scratching. Never let children interact with petting zoo animals unsupervised.

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