Key Recommendations for the Prevention of Illness and Injury - Recommendations to prevent disease and injury associated with petting zoos in Ontario

High-Risk Groups

  • Immunocompromised persons and infants under one year of age should avoid touching or feeding any animals.
  • Children under five should not come in contact with reptiles, amphibians, birds, young ruminants or their immediate environment.

Visitor Education

  • Petting zoo operators should post signs that are reminders to wash hands at exits from animal areas and in non-animal areas where food is served and consumed.
  • Education materials should be age and language appropriate.

Operation of the Exhibit
Petting zoo operators should:

  • Assign trained staff in animal areas to monitor public activities and encourage appropriate human-animal contact.
  • Maintain proper visitor flow to avoid overcrowding at hand hygiene facilities or in animal areas.

Hand Hygiene

  • Hand hygiene facilities (i.e., hand-washing facilities or alcohol-based hand-sanitizers) should be located at every exit from animal areas.
  • Petting zoo operators should ensure hand hygiene facilities are accessible to children and persons with disabilities, and are routinely cleaned and restocked.

Facilities
Petting zoo operators should:

  • Use barriers, gates, and signs to discourage uncontrolled access to animals and animal areas.
  • Establish well-defined and clearly labelled transition areas between animal areas and other areas.

Cleaning
Petting zoo operators/staff should:

  • Promptly remove manure and soiled bedding from animal enclosures.
  • Where feasible, clean, rinse and disinfect animal areas at least once daily.
  • When disinfection is not possible (i.e., wooden rails, natural flooring), remove fresh organic material regularly to prevent build-up.
  • Thoroughly clean, rinse and disinfect all areas where animals have been displayed before those areas are used for future public (non-animal) events.

Food and Beverage Consumption

  • Food and beverages should be prepared, served and consumed only in non-animal areas. Animal areas should be well-defined, separate areas, with food outside the boundaries of these areas and hand hygiene facilities provided in between.
  • Operators should not allow food, beverages, smoking, toys, pacifiers, spill-proof cups (“sippy-cups”), and baby bottles in animal areas.

Animal Care and Management

  • Petting zoo operators should work with a veterinarian to develop a preventive care program, including vaccination and parasite control, for displayed animals.
  • All mammals, for which vaccine use has been approved by a veterinarian, should be vaccinated against rabies unless they are accessible only by those responsible for their care.
  • Develop a process for dealing with ill, injured or distressed animals, which should include isolation from other animals and the public, and appropriate veterinary care.

Injury Prevention and Control

  • Any animal bite or other animal contact that may result in rabies in persons must, by law, be reported immediately to the local Medical Officer of Health.

Petting zoo operators should:

  • Ensure first aid facilities are well stocked and conveniently located to staff and the public.
  • Develop written procedures for dealing with injured people and escaping from enclosures.
  • Train staff in these procedures.