Are you taking your kids to a petting zoo? The next time you encounter small goats, piggies, or alpacas, wouldn’t you like to know how to cheer up these animals—or at least know how to not scare them away? Many kids (and adults) don’t quite understand animal behavior enough to guarantee a playful interaction, so we decided to go over a list of tips for a smooth petting zoo visit!
1. Don’t Forget to Pack Your Bags!
As you would do with any outdoor activity, be sure you’ve got your sunscreen, sunglasses, and extra layers. As animal sanctuaries are outdoors, you’ll be exposed to the elements. Whether it be the hot sun or a cool breeze, it’s always best to be prepared for anything. Must-have items you should not forget to pack include:
- An extra pair of shoes
- Camera/phone (for the adorable pics)
2. Put Yourself in Your Kid’s Shoes
Many parents have taken their kids to a petting zoo only to wonder why they are afraid of the little animals. Well, if you try putting yourself in the shoes of your little ones, you may understand. While petting-zoo animals are smaller than normal, they still may appear large in your kid’s point of view. Also, kids can also be startled by the appearance of certain animals as well. For example, goats have oval-shaped irises, which can look daunting to some. Seeing animals up close for the first time can be frightening for some children, so be sure to give your child some encouragement so that they can face their fears and learn that animals are not scary.
3. Don’t Sneak Up on the Animals
It’s not always that the kids are afraid of the animals—sometimes the animals are afraid of the kids! In order to prevent scaring the animals, we recommended not running. Running toward the animals can cause them some stress. Kids can easily get excited and run toward the first animal they see, but it’s important to make sure that they stay calm and walk slowly. While the animals DO want to interact with people, they do not want to interact with anything that is pursuing them. Make sure the animal sees and hears you before you pet it. We want to make sure we don’t startle them—especially if they’re taking a nap.
4. Be Mindful of Body Language
Pay attention to an animal’s body language, especially their eyes, hair, and ears. When an animal pins its ear back, it may be best to move away. Also, the hair on a goat’s back will stand, just like a cat, when it’s upset. But as long as you don’t do anything to scare or stress an animal, you don’t have to worry about upsetting them. In fact, if you want to make them happy, we recommend giving them shoulder scratches! The vast majority of animals love them!
5. Don’t Feed the Animals Random Food
While you may enjoy eating potato chips, animals can’t enjoy the same snacks as us. Animal sanctuaries offer specific animal food for purchase that are nutritious and delicious for the animals. Animals at animal sanctuaries follow specific diets, and giving them something they’re not supposed to eat can potentially harm their health. If you happen to give an animal something they shouldn’t eat—no matter how small or harmless it may seem—please let the staff know as soon as possible.
Visit Children’s Nature Retreat
There’s nothing more joyous than going to a petting zoo and spending time with adorable little animals. Whether you’re a child or an adult, it’s fun for people of all ages! We hope this list of tips for a smooth petting zoo visit helps you prepare for the most exciting petting zoo experience! If you’re looking for an animal sanctuary to take your kids to, Children’s Nature Retreat is the perfect place! You can visit us at 5178 Japatul Spur Alpine, CA 91901, or get in touch by calling (619) 320-4942 or contacting us on our website.