Plans to expand Sydney’s Luna Park with a petting zoo have been withdrawn after the government received hundreds of submissions opposing the proposal, including an objection from PETA.
A busy theme park with noisy crowds, music, and boisterous children is a highly unsuitable environment for animals. Being handled and forced into close proximity with strangers is a stressful and traumatic experience for most species, who – unlike human visitors – can’t leave once they’ve had enough.
What’s more, petting zoos contribute to a cruel cycle of breeding, abandonment, and killing. Exhibitors typically use young animals and – if they survive the stress of being handled by crowds – dispose of them when they grow older and become difficult to handle or are no longer considered “cute”.
These exhibits can also present a risk to human health: experts warn that they’re hotbeds of serious pathogens, including E coli and salmonella. Infections can spread through direct or even indirect contact with animals, and in some cases, the resulting illnesses can be fatal. In 2017, a toddler in the US died after contracting a bacterial infection at a petting zoo, and a landmark case in the UK saw over £1 million ($1.8 million) in compensation awarded to 35 victims who had contracted E coli at a petting zoo.
Petting zoos are ultimately profit-focused businesses using animals for entertainment.
Visitors can enjoy many other activities in Sydney without resorting to exploiting sentient beings.
If you hear of any similar plans to use animals in petting zoos, please let us know. And sign up for our e-newsletter to help with urgent actions for animals: