An unregulated industry
There are currently around 187 businesses operating as mobile petting zoos in the UK with thousands of animals of a number of different species being used by them.
Despite this, there is no law dealing specifically with this type of business, meaning that the animals are vulnerable due to lack of legal protection. Indeed, according to research carried out in 2013, up to 66% of mobile petting zoo businesses appeared to be operating illegally as they have failed to register with their local council; something which has, until recently, been required by law. Legal opinion released from Government department DEFRA in late 2013 suggested that, going forward, these businesses might not even have to comply with any system of registration, meaning that the animals used by them may be even more vulnerable to abuses.
Unlike zoos, which can only operate if they have been inspected and issued with a licence, anyone can set up a mobile zoo without little, if any, scrutiny. No inspections are carried out and no licences are required. This is despite the fact that at least some of the animals used in mobile petting zoos are the same species as those held in zoos.
The case of Tropical Inc. clearly demonstrates the risk to the animals used in this, almost completely unregulated, industry.
The lack of control over the industry also means that there may be more risk to your children as there is no requirement for the health of the animals to be checked by vets before their enter your home or classroom. Concerns over transmission of disease from animals to children (and children to animals) have been raised by experts. See: ‘Disease and injury risk to your child’ page for more information.
If you are thinking of booking a mobile zoo company, please reconsider and, instead, explore the animal-friendly alternatives section of this website!