How to Start a Petting Zoo

Posted on 25 August 2011

How to Start a Petting Zoo

Do you love animals and kids? If you learn how to start a petting zoo, you can combine your passion for animals and your love for children into a great small business opportunity. It is important to gather as much information about how to start a petting zoo as possible before buying your first animal. This business can be a lot of fun, but it isn’t easy, and you need to be prepared for all it entails.

What You’ll Need to Succeed

Before you do anything else on your quest to start a petting zoo, call your local government planning and zoning office. You’ll need to find out if a petting zoo business is allowed in your area and if so, what types of restrictions there are, and which permits and licenses you may need.

Your state’s department of agriculture and your health department will be able to provide you with further information about any additional restrictions and regulations you must follow. Expect inspectors from these departments to make regular visits to your petting zoo for inspections to look for violations of your state’s codes and laws.

Another important consideration when looking into how to start a petting zoo is insurance. You will want to have a comprehensive insurance policy that includes a strong liability rider. If an animal bites or scratches a child at your petting zoo, you want to make sure you are well protected from a law suit. You’ll also need workers comp coverage for any employees you hire.

The next thing to think about before you start petting zoo is where you will locate your business. Of course you will need a large space for children to come and visit and pet the animals, but you’ll also need to have barns and stalls for the animals to sleep in at night and during poor weather. In addition, animals require regular exercise, so you will need a large enclosed section of property where they can run. One other area you’ll need to think about is an enclosed building separate from the other animals where a sick, pregnant, or injured animal can rest and recuperate.

Speaking of sick animals, you’ll want to form a good relationship with a veterinarian who can care for your animals as needed. Also consider space needed for large quantities of food and supplies to care for the animals in a petting zoo.

Deciding which animals to include in your petting zoo is the fun part. A good mix of farm and household animals is a good idea, and some petting zoos include exotic pets as well. Of course only animals that are tame and docile enough for kids to pet are acceptable.

One way you will make money with a petting zoo business is by providing vending machines, stocked with healthy treats that children can feed to the animals.

You or an employee should always be on duty at the petting zoo to make sure the animals and your visitors are all safe and behaving properly. Whoever is watching the petting zoo should be great with kids and know enough about animals to answer their questions.

Because you are working with children, it is strongly suggested that you perform a thorough background check on any employee you hire for your petting zoo.

One of the best ways to generate a lot of business for a petting zoo is to offer discounted or free admission to schools. While you might not make a lot when the school visits, the children who come will go home and ask their parents if they can go to the petting zoo soon!

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