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Fun with furry friends: keeping your children safe at the zoo

Worried about what might happen when you take your kid to the zoo? Safety is on the minds of many, and we have some tips to help you out.
Herb Scribner, Deseret News Modified: July 10, 2014 at 1:25 pm •  Published: July 10, 2014

Some people will do anything for a nap. This little girl, especially, who effectively turned a “petting zoo” into a “pillow zoo."

In a photo found on imgur, below, the girl can be seen resting her head on the bellies and backs of various zoo animals.

Let the awwwws commence.

But this girl’s desire for a little sleepy time points to a larger issue -- how safe are our zoos?

Studies by Born Free USA found that between 2000 and 2008 there were 12 human injuries and two deaths at zoos under the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) umbrella.

“These numbers increase almost fourfold when including roadside zoos and people owning exotic animals as pets,” Born Free USA reported. “This doesn’t even factor in escapes without incident.”

The Washington City Paper also reported that between April 2007 and October 2013, there were 38 injuries caused by animals in the National Zoo.

These kind of injuries haven’t escaped the minds of policymakers and government agencies either. The American Society of Safety Engineers has stressed zoo safety recently, saying that new procedures need to be put in place to keep kids and zoogoers from getting injured.

A new study also found that 61.5 percent of all injuries to zoo veterinarians come from animals in a major way, while 32.2 percent are from animal-related allergies, according to The National Center for Biotechnology Information.

“Zoos are unique because zoos have a wide range of issues to consider. Animal health and safety is important, and the health and safety of employees and guests are also very important,” Mary Ciesluk, former assistant director of public safety at an Illinois zoo, said to EHS Today.

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