It seems like an ideal venture, but few people know how to get started, what animals to pick, or how to set it up correctly. This article addresses some of the issues.
Are You Sure?
Before you turn your farm into a petting zoo you may want to consider all the potential for pitfalls specific to this type of business. There are some big potentials for problems, the first being liability. Insurance for Petting Zoos is expensive, some times you can get lower insurance by looking out of state or province. Some people do not insure beyond farm insurance and have waivers against lawsuits and hope the waiver will be a deterrent.
The next potential for problems is unruly children chasing and harassing the animals, and parents who find this “cute”. I suggest you have signs and point out right from the start that chasing animals will not be tolerated, as well dogs should not be allowed on a petting farm.
Beware of “Animal Rights” activists who may not consider what you are doing to be fair to the animals. This is particularly true if you have a sick or injured animal and they are able to photograph it and may want to slander your farm for cruelty. If you have any sick or injured animals, keep them 100% away from public viewing.
Another risk is people coming to your farm and bringing disease, this is very unlikely unless they are from a farm themselves, and why would a farm kid be visiting you? None the less it is a concern.
Because it involves live animals, there will be times when you are working many extra hours caring for your animals. Be prepared for this.
Land and Buildings
I would not even suggest you start this kind of a venture unless you have at least 10 acres, but not all of it has to be devoted to the petting zoo, some should just be places for the animals to be left alone. Depending on the number of animals, and species, you may require more land simply to meet their needs.
You will need multiple small pens set up to house the actual animals that the people can visit. Some shade is required as well, for the animals and people, if you have a covered venue, it is best because then people can come regardless of rain or poor weather conditions.
A bathroom is a must, this can even be a portable unit you rent, otherwise people will be asking to use the bathroom in your home. Another requirement is a place for people to wash their hands, in fact in some places both these things are required by law. There are portable sinks you can have with a hose attached and be sure to provide soap.
Published in: Rural Living