Petting Zoos and Animal Exhibits

Interactive animal exhibits (e.g. petting zoos, open farms, animal rides, and animal displays), are fun and educational experiences for visitors, but can also result in illness and injury.

Animal exhibits have been the source of infectious disease outbreaks, such as salmonella and E. coli.  Although rare, serious diseases, like rabies, also present a risk.

Information Package

To protect the health of visitors, please read and follow the below guidelines 

  1. Ministry of Health and Long Term Care’s Recommendations to Prevent Disease and Injury Associated with Petting Zoos in Ontario (2011)
  2. Key Recommendations for the Prevention of Illness and Injury in an Animal Exhibit.
  3. Posters for your event:
    • Post the “Clean Your Hands” signs at hand hygiene stations at the entrance and exit to the animal areas.
    • Post the “Do Not Touch” signs at enclosures with animals that the public should not come into direct contact with (e.g. at enclosures with animals that are not immunized against rabies).
    • To receive the posters, please call Health Line at 519-271-7600 or toll-free at 1-877-271-7348 extension 267 or email 


  • If you are hosting a petting zoo or animal exhibition, please complete and submit the Special Event Animal Exhibit Form (PDF) to the Health Unit at least two weeks in advance of the special event.
  • If an application form is not received, you may not be approved to participate in the event.
  • If you need a copy of the form sent to you in alternate format, please call the Health Unit.


NEW! Rabies Vaccination Requirement

  • As of December 2018, Ontario Regulation 567: Rabies Immunization now requires up-to-date rabies immunizations for all horses, cows, bulls, steers, calves and sheep if the animal is accessible to the public. The regulation is available at
  • The animal is considered accessible, and must be immunized against rabies, if it is in a setting where:
    • the public is encouraged and/or expected to have direct contact with the animal. This includes if the animal is within physical reach.
    • animals are part of an interactive exhibit, such as a petting zoo.
  • At seasonal agricultural fairs, animals on display or in holding areas are exempt from the rabies immunization requirement if reasonable measures are taken to restrict public access and direct contact with the animals, such as physical barriers, signage, and supervision of animal areas.

For more information

To discuss your event, guidelines and requirements with a Public Health Inspector, call 519-271-7600 or toll-free at 1-877-271-7348.