Petting zoo dangers are REAL!
Yes, it can be fun for your little ones however it can also be a tragic one.
My 2-year-old loves animals so my hubby and I decided we would take her to a local petting zoo. I really didn’t do my due diligence! A friend of mine mentioned she had previously gone to one so I thought it would be the perfect alternative (rather than driving all the way down South to the Miami Zoo).
Would you consider taking your little one to a petting zoo?
Do Your Research
This is so important!! There are independent petting zoos and then there are petting zoos within a zoo. If you thinking about going to an independent petting zoo, you want to be sure that you look into how well the animals are taken care of and where they come from. Look online via their website, social media platforms, etc. You could call them to get more details as well. I also highly suggest asking other moms within your city about their experiences at the local petting zoos.
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I googled “Petting Zoos Near Me” and click through a couple of the options listed. We ended up going to Marando Farms & Ranch. Their website looked okay and love that they offered lots of information (hours of operation, etc). I don’t know why but I don’t remember seeing any reviews. After arriving, I really like the vibe that I got. There’s a cute little cafe where you can order food/drinks and also a farmer’s market.
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The entry to this petting zoo is $3 per person. There were very few people there. There were no kids in the petting zoo area when we arrived. I’m not really sure if that’s because it was a rainy day or if that’s how it normally is.
Things you should do once you arrive at a petting zoo:
- They will probably have you sign a waiver. Make sure that you actually READ it . . . thoroughly!!
- Ask about the well being of the animals and confirm whether or not all the animals are vaccinated.
- Read all of the warnings they have posted within the petting zoo.
- If you decide you want your kids to feed the animals, ask the staff what is the “right” way the kids are to feed the animals.
Supervise Your Kids . . . Closely!
Make sure that you keep a close eye on your kids and the animals while you’re there. You want to keep an eye on the kids because you want to make sure they are careful when handling the animals and keep an eye on the animals to make sure their demeanor stay calm and collective.
As crazy as it sounds, it’s recommended your kids don’t pet the animals. I know you’re probably like “Well, what’s the point of going to a petting zoo if you can’t pet the animals?!?!”. I personally feel it’s extremely hard telling your kids they can’t touch the animals. Plus, isn’t that’s the whole point?!
Don’t Play on the Ground
You might feel this is obvious but you’ll be surprised how many kids play on the ground (in the animal area) at a petting zoo. Not only is it usually very dirty but it’s a feeding ground for germs and all things bad for your kids.
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Don’t Feed the Animals
When we arrived we were asked if we wanted to buy food (lettuce) so that we can feed the animals. Knowing Haley, I knew she would absolutely love to feed the animals so we paid $2 for ahead of lettuce. After walking to the back (which is where the animals are) we stood there or a few minutes because we weren’t sure how to enter the fenced area (which is where the animals are). There weren’t any signs showing us where to go or how to get in. This is one of the reasons I feel Marando Farms & Ranch is not as organized as I would prefer.
Our experience at Marando Farms & Ranch was not so good. After being there for about 45 minutes and just before leaving, Haley went back to the ponies to pet them (which are behind a gate). She didn’t have anything in her hands and she didn’t do anything to the pony. She just stood there looking at one of the ponies but she then leaned over to pet the pony on the head. My husband and I were standing right next to her when she started screaming and crying. . . One of the ponies bit her!! I tend to react to things slowly because it took time for me to process exactly what had happened. I examined her forearm and it immediately turned red and started swelling. The skin was broken a little bit but I’m so thankful that it wasn’t much worse.
One of the workers (the teen son) came over to take a look at the bite. We moved inside to wash it and get a better look at it. My poor baby, she was in so much pain! She loves animals so I’m really hoping this has not traumatized her.
What should you do if your child gets bitten at the petting zoo?
- Exam the bite. Check to see if the skin is broken or not (if it’s bleeding). There will probably be redness and swelling but determining if the skin is broken is VERY important. If the skin is broken, that means it is highly likely the wound is infected.
- Clean the wound immediately! Ask someone there if they have a first aid kit. If they do, use an anti-bacterial spray or ointment to treat the wound.
- Take pictures and video of the bite. Not all will this allow you to keep track of what goes on with the wound but you may also need the pictures and video later on (for legal matters or to show a medical professional).
- Speak to the manager and ask questions. You will want to know how well the animals are taken care of. Do they get vaccines? How often does a bitting happen? What are their procedures once something like this happens?
With so many germs and unknown harmful things at a petting zoo, make sure that your kids wash their hands regularly while they are there and just before you guys leave. As a mom, you know just how much kids put their hands in their face and/or mouth. You really don’t want them to contract something that would be harmful to them (ex. E Coli, an incurable disease, etc). One way to prevent them from contracting something is by making them leave any of their toys, pacifiers, blankets, etc. inside the car or at home. This will prevent their things from becoming contaminated.
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At this point, we will not be going back to a petting zoo after this unfortunate event. Not to say I won’t consider it later on down the line but
Have you taken your little ones to a petting zoo? If so, how was your experience? If not, let me know in the comments below if these tips are helpful.