Fall is officially in session and that means more visits to the many local farms and pettings zoos on Long Island for not only apple and pumpkin picking, but the petting zoo! Yes, those cute and cuddly farm animals, like chicks, sheep, goats, rabbits, ponies, llamas, pigs and other wonderful creatures are out and about waiting to be fed and petted.
As much fun as it is to see the little ones having a blast with the farm animals, it’s also important to keep clean and healthy with such activities.
Animals at petting zoos may sometimes carry germs that are harmful to humans. “When people forget to wash their hands after petting an animal, or bring food or drinks into an area where animals are exhibited, they are at risk for becoming ill,” according to the CDC.
To keep clean and healthy, the CDC advises to wash hands often and always upon exiting animal areas even if you didn’t touch any. Soiled clothes and shoes should also be removed, so make sure to bring spares of each. For those with young babies, it’s advised not to take strollers, bottles, pacifiers, spill-proof cups, or toys in animal areas.
Children younger than 5 years old, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems should take extra precaution around animal exhibits.
Public health at petting zoos is a serious concern and a new law is also coming out requiring petting zoos to provide hand washing facilities. The law requires that the washing facilities be located either at the exit of the petting zoo area or within 50 feet. Signs are also required at the exit to inform visitors that petting zoo animals may carry germs and bacteria that cause disease and the recommendation for washing hands upon exiting. The signs also must offer clear direction to where the facility for hand washing is.
For a full list of information on petting zoo safety tips and information on the germs some of these animals may carry, the CDC has provided further information here.
Photo by Nancy Lowrie, via Free Images.