Tips to stay healthy at animal exhibits

Publish Date

The holiday season is right around the corner with Thanksgiving next week, and we will soon see an increase in animal exhibits and petting zoos to accompany religious scenes and Santa villages.  

Carrie Klumb

As interesting and fun as these exhibits may look, and as much as children will want to get close to the animals, it is important to know that many people may become ill after visiting an animal exhibit.  According to MAPE Region 9 Director Carrie Klumb, “The key thing is for people to understand there is a risk: healthy, well-cared for animals can make people sick.” 

Klumb, who is also a senior epidemiologist with the State Department of Health, has some tips to keep healthy while viewing the exhibit: 

  • Wash your hands with soap and water after visiting the animals; even if you didn’t touch any of them. 

  • Hand sanitizer doesn’t work against all germs; use it until you can get to soap and water. 

  • Leave your food and drink outside of the animal areas.   

  • Once you get home, leave your shoes by the door and change your clothes.  

  • Children less than 5 years old, adults over 65, pregnant women, & those with immunocompromised are at increased risk of illness. 

For more information on keeping safe at petting zoos, click on this Minnesota Dept. of Health poster: Microsoft Word - UMASH-Petting Zoos v2 (