Disease and injury risk to your child
Most mobile petting zoo companies promote themselves to parents and teachers as a great activity for young children to enjoy. What many parents and teachers will not realise is that close contact with exotic animals may put the health of children at risk.
‘Zoonoses’ bugs that can be passed between animals and people. It is thought that around 61% of human diseases are of potentially zoonotic origin, and there are at least 70 known zoonoses linked with captive exotic animals. Salmonella, for example, can be passed from reptiles to people and is estimated to be responsible for around 6,000 infections each year in the UK alone. Over half of the animals used by mobile petting zoos are reptiles.
Research has shown that even thorough hand washing after handling animals may not offer adequate protection from zoonotic diseases because germs easily spread into the surrounding area and may prove difficult, if not impossible, to remove altogether. Hiring a mobile petting zoo may also mean that your home or classroom becomes contaminated and later poses a risk of infection to new visitors and children. Experts advise parents and teachers to avoid petting zoo experiences altogether.
Animals may also bite, scratch or otherwise injure children during handling experiences and some illnesses may be passed from children to animals too.
If you are thinking of booking a mobile zoo company, please reconsider and, instead, explore the animal-friendly alternatives section of this website!
Thanks to the Emergent Disease Foundation (www.emergentdisease.org) for providing some of the information included in this section.