Meeting animals at a petting zoo
Getting close to animals is great for children, as long as they know how to stay safe from bacteria.
Visiting an animal attraction, zoo or wildlife park is hugely popular with schools and parents, with at least 700,000 children visiting farms on the island of Ireland every year.
It's a great way to get children out and about in the summer months - but it's also a time where children can get up close with animals. Animals can carry bacteria that are harmless to them, but could make children very sick. So make sure they know how to keep themselves safe.
Before your visit
- Wear clothes that are right for being on a farm such as wellies or good strong shoes – not sandals.
- Cover any cuts or grazes with waterproof dressings.
Meeting the animals
- Don’t kiss the animals or allow them to lick your face.
- Don’t suck your fingers or put anything you find in your mouth.
- When you’re with the animals or in the animal area, don’t eat or drink anything – and never eat animal food or pick up any food from the ground.
- Unless someone working on the farm gives you permission, don’t pick up any tools, such as spades or forks.
- Don’t touch any animal droppings.
- Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and rinse in running water before leaving the animal area. Wipes and gels don't remove germs in dirt.
Feeding time – for you
- Wash and dry your hands properly before you start to eat.
- Eat only in areas where you have been told it is OK to do so.
- Eat only food you have brought with you or food you have bought from a food shop on the farm.
- Don’t drink from any taps unless they are clearly marked that it is OK to drink from them.
- Don’t drink raw milk.
- Make sure you put any rubbish in waste bins.
- Don’t leave any food lying around behind you – take it home or put it in waste bins.
- If you use a pram or buggy, clean the wheels before you leave, as well as any shoes or boots you've taken off.
- Remember to wash and dry your hands after doing all that.