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Petting Zoos

Interactive animal exhibits (e.g. petting zoos, open farms, animal rides, and animal displays), are fun and educational experiences for visitors, but they can also make people sick if you don't take the proper precautions. Learn about requirements and guidelines to reduce the risk of potential illness or infection. 


Review the Petting Zoo Organizers Information Package to learn the requirements and recommendations for your petting zoo or animal exhibition. 

At a petting zoo, handwashing stations must be: 

  • Located at every exit from and entrance to animal areas 
  • Routinely cleaned and restocked 
  • Accessible to children and persons with disabilities 
  • Equipped with tepid running water, liquid soap in a dispenser and individual paper towels 

Water must be from a safe drinking water source.

Signs must be posted to remind visitors to wash their hands at all entrances to and exits from animal areas. 

According to Ontario Regulation (O. Reg.) 567: Rabies Immunization, all horses, cows, bulls, steers, calves and sheep in petting zoos or interactive animal displays must be immunized against rabies

If animals requiring rabies vaccinations are not vaccinated, measures must be taken to ensure that the public doesn't have access to the animals. This may including posting signs asking people not to touch the animals or using a double barrier between these animals and members of the public. 

Any animal bite or other animal contact that may result in rabies must be reported immediately to Huron Perth Public Health. Petting zoo operators should: 

  • Ensure first aid facilities are well stocked and conveniently located for staff and the public 
  • Develop written procedures for dealing with injured people and handling animals that escape from enclosures 


As a petting zoo operator, you 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 handwashing stations or in animal areas 
  • Use barriers, gates and signs to discourage uncontrolled access to animals and animal areas 
  • Promptly remove manure and soiled bedding from animal enclosures 
  • Where feasible, clean, rinse and disinfect animal areas at least once per day 
  • When disinfection isn't possible, remove fresh organic material regularly to prevent build-up 
  • Thoroughly clean, rinse and disinfect all areas where animals were displayed before those areas are used for future public (non-animal) events 

Food and beverage consumption should be separate from animal areas. Make sure to have handwashing stations located between animal areas and food and beverage areas. You shouldn't allow food, beverages, smoking, toys, pacifiers, sippy-cups or bottles in the animal area. 

Post a sign that the states the rules for the petting zoo: 

  • People with weakened immune systems and infants under 1 year of age should avoid touching or feeding animals 
  • Children under 5 shouldn't come in contact with reptiles, amphibians, birds, young ruminants or their immediate environment 
  • No food, beverages, smoking, toys, pacifiers, sippy-cups or bottles in the animal areas 

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