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Stay healthy at animal exhibits this summer!

lambs with their mother
From watching calf roping at the rodeo to petting lambs at the county fair, there are many ways to explore the animal world this spring and summer. Exhibits such as petting zoos and fairs allow children of all ages to have the thrilling experience of coming face to face with animals. 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. Click here to find out more. When people forget to wash their hands after petting an animal or bring food into an area where animals are being housed, they are at risk for becoming ill.
Let's make this spring and summer healthier seasons! Below are some tips to help you prevent illness when visiting animal exhibits.

If you are visiting an animal exhibit:
Hand-washing stations
  • Find out where hand-washing stations are located.
  • Always wash your hands after petting animals or touching the animal enclosure, especially before eating and drinking.
  • Running water and soap are best. Use hand gels if running water and soap are not available.
handwashing station

Food and drinks

  • Keep food and drinks out of animal areas.
  • Do not share your food with animals.
  • Do not eat or drink raw (unpasteurized) dairy products.


  • Children younger than 5 years old need supervision
  • Never allow children to put their hands or objects (For example: pacifiers) in their mouth while interacting with animals.
  • Hand washing should be supervised.
girl with pet deer
Elderly persons or others who might have a difficult time fighting off infections should use special precautions. Click here to find out more.

If you manage an animal exhibit:

Facility design

  • Design the exhibit so that animal areas are separate from areas where people may eat food.
  • Use signs to state where the animal and food areas are.
  • Install hand washing stations at the exit for the animal exhibit. Make sure that some of the hand-washing stations are low enough for children to reach!


  • Educate visitors to wash their hands after handling animals.
  • Do not allow visitors to kiss or otherwise allow their mouths to come into contact with animals or their enclosures.
  • Train staff and educate visitors about preventing disease transmission from animals to humans.
  • Use a variety of methods to provide information to
    the public. For example, use brochures, signs, and verbal instructions.
More information
goat on a log

  • Do not serve unpasteurized dairy products to the public.
  • For more information on keeping your visitors healthier, see the Compendium of Measures to Prevent Diseases and Injury Associated with Animals in Public Settings, 2005.
  • Visit our web site, Healthy Pets Healthy People, for more information on how you and your pet can stay healthy this summer.


    handwashing sign and station


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