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From watching calf roping at the rodeo to petting lambs at the county fair, there are many ways to explore the animal world. Exhibits such as petting zoos and fairs let children of all ages have the thrilling experience of coming face to face with animals. In our increasingly urban society, a petting zoo is often the only place where kids can see and touch animals besides cats and dogs. This interaction allows people to learn more about animals and helps to build an important human-animal bond.
Unfortunately, many people become sick every year because of a visit to an animal exhibit. It is important to remember that animals sometimes carry germs that are harmful to humans. When people forget to wash their hands after petting an animal or bring food into an area where animals are located, they are at risk for becoming ill.
Below are some tips to help you prevent illness when visiting animal exhibits…
Always wash your hands, for at least 20 seconds, after petting animals or touching the animal enclosure, especially before eating and drinking. Running water and soap are best however hand gels can do the trick if no hand-washing facilities are available.
Children younger than five years old need supervision. Never allow children to put their hands or objects (i.e. pacifiers or toys) in their mouth while interacting with animals.
Eat or drink before going to the petting zoo rather than during or after. Keep food and drinks out of animal areas. Do not share your food with animals.
If there are a lot of animal droppings in the petting area or if the animals appear excessively dirty, it is probably best not to visit. Even with the best hygienic practices, illness-causing bacteria may be present at the animal exhibit.
If your child becomes ill soon after visiting a petting zoo or farm, contact your doctor. Exposure to E-coli can make your child extremely sick with severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
In addition, elderly persons or others who might have a difficult time fighting off infections should use special precautions.
For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.
Animal-Borne Disease Newsletter
Handwashing Guidelines when Leaving Animal Exhibits
Petting Zoo and Animal Exhibits
Prevent Animal-Borne Diseases
Administration & Courts Facility 100 Jefferson County Parkway Golden, Colorado 80419 (303) 279-6511
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