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Are Petting Zoo Birthday Parties A Good Idea?

boy petting duckling at petting zoo

Are Petting Zoo Birthday Parties A Good Idea?

There’s nothing like a memorable experience to see the joy on a child’s face after they would interact with the gentle animals at a petting zoo. Most kids enjoy petting zoos, begging their parents to plan and host an event during their birthday party. Birthday parties with a petting zoo bring the magic of animals to the home. Kids are in awe of animals of all different sizes and shapes, and a birthday party that showcases different animals can be both educational and fun. A petting zoo can make a great addition to a birthday party. However, there are pros and cons to keep in mind. It’s important to learn everything you need to know before making a final decision about whether to host a petting zoo birthday party.

Pros of Petting Zoo Parties

Kids Will Learn Compassion and Gain Courage Towards Animals

Children who haven't interacted with animals outside the home have yet to experience what can be the basis for a great understanding of learning to be compassionate towards them. By interacting with animals, children will learn how to be caring and gentle with animals that are meek like ducks and baby goats. However, they will learn to build courage when it comes to petting animals like ponies, whose size can be frightening for small children.

Learn Animal’s Unique Personalities

Kids are usually used to interacting with and holding the family cat or dog, but they may not have the chance to interact with farm animals like chickens, goats, and ponies. Connecting with these animals will help your children to learn the unique personalities of different animals, how they socialize with each other, and the differences and similarities between them. Being near animals overall can prove to be a fun learning experience: goats have unique-looking eyes and ducks have interesting-looking feathers and you best believe your children will point these out to you! In doing so, they’re improving their observation skills.

Enhances Your Children's Senses

Having a petting zoo party will stimulate most of your child’s senses as they feel, hear, see, and smell the different animals. It’s one thing to know that the goat goes “baa”, but quite another to see it in person! The sounds of the petting zoo are certainly distinct. By petting the animals, you can feel how soft a sheep’s fur can be and feel how strange it is when a pony licks your face. Every interaction is unique.

petting zoos and five senses
Kids can use their senses to learn about different animals at a petting zoo. ©iStock.com/Serhiy Kobyakov

©Serhiy Kobyakov/Shutterstock.com

Enjoy Fresh Air

We're all stuck indoors a whole lot. Having a petting zoo party will encourage children to go about the backyard to enjoy the fresh air and sun. Another perk of having a petting zoo party is it helps take some of the built-up energy children have and disburse it so that parents can relax.

Improves Social Skills With Other Kids

Not only are parties great for improving your social skills, but so are requesting a petting zoo at your party. Children will have the opportunity to experience hands-on activities such as holding, feeding, petting, and grooming the animals. These activities have been shown in research to engage both sides of the brain, unlike having that experience in the classroom. Brain scans have shown that children who interacted with petting zoo animals, increased activity in the motor and sensory-related areas of the brain when thinking about concepts they had hands-on experience with. Petting zoos are great for children as well of the great amount of sensory input. Most of the five senses are used by children who visit the petting zoo.

Very Educational

Kids can see animals up close and personal to pet them and learn about caring for them. They also have the opportunity to learn about biology and the different diets of the animals they encounter. Learning about the different types of animals that live in different parts of the globe is another perk of petting zoos.

The Animals Are Well-Trained

A concern of parents that are considering organizing a petting zoo at a birthday party is their behaviors and if they are well-tamed. Companies that can help you organize the petting zoo event, have been breeding well-tamed animals for years. Common petting zoo animals are born on farms. Therefore, are introduced to petting zoos as babies. Since they are introduced to children from an early age, they’re gentle and meek.

Attract A Lot Of Interesting Guests

When you host a petting zoo party, what animal lover out there would pass up the opportunity to see exotic animals? You are close and personal with farm animals like sheep and pigs to more exotic animals like emus and llamas.

Different kids meeting to observe a turtle
Petting zoo parties attract unique guests to meet and greet. ©iStock.com/Robert Kneschke

©Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock.com

Cons of Petting Zoo Parties

Health And Safety Concerns

The main concern for most parents is the potential for petting zoo parties to expose people to dangerous zoonotic diseases. Animals can be sick or seriously injured through being fed inappropriate foods or injured through mishandling them. In recent years, there have been several reports of disease outbreaks at petting zoos, while most of these incidents have been minor, some have resulted in a serious life-threatening illness.

Safety is another concern, as animals can be unpredictable, causing a potential risk if a child is accidentally bitten, kicked, or scratched. Animals react differently to everyone. Their caretakers may be very delicate and gentle with them. People visiting them, may become tense and act up since they don’t know these strangers. People can also be harmful to animals if they weren’t brought up to have respect for them. 

Lack Of Learning About Animals And Compassion

It’s always required to teach children about compassion and view animals as living and sentient entities. This can’t always be taught through wire fences and glass enclosures. Reputable farm sanctuaries are a great way to teach children about animals. They provide a way to view animals in their natural habitat than the confinement of a small area. These sanctuaries rescue animals that have been mistreated, teaching children about the importance of compassion towards living beings. They will see animals as they should, happy, roaming, and absent from pain and suffering.

Animal Welfare Concerns

It’s natural for children to get excited when seeing animals, but it’s best to look at things from the animal’s perspective as well. Not only are you confined to a small space, but you have different individuals hugging, petting, and poking you. Wouldn’t you feel overwhelmed and scared? Animals are no different than humans in their ability to experience fear and stress. Large crowds can also cause animals to experience stress. Reaching into their enclosures with no fair warning can also startle and stress the animals. Teaching children about animals should involve learning about animal habitats and behaviors in a stress-free environment.

Concerns About Small Spaces

To cut costs for the host and maximize profits for the company, petting zoo parties put more animals into smaller spaces. As a result, animals have limited room to move around and become stressed. Animals do not enjoy this since they don’t have the freedom to move as they can in a natural environment. Being stressed and confined in a small area can lead to health and behavioral problems.

Petting zoo pin with limited space
Animals have little room to move around at petting zoos and often become stressed. ©iStock.com/JGA


Ethical Concerns

Petting zoo parties are a fun way to learn and interact with animals, but they also raise ethical concerns. Most petting zoos are for-profit, and the welfare of animals is not the priority. The entertainment of the visitors is important, and animals often suffer in the end. Animals are often in small, tiny spaces. They may also not receive the adequate amount of care as they would in a sanctuary or their natural habitat.

Questions To Ask When Hiring A Petting Zoo

  1. Can you hire a petting zoo for your party?
  2. How much does it cost?
  3. Where can you set up a petting zoo?
  4. How big is a petting zoo?
  5. What animals will I get?
  6. How much renting is only a pony?
  7. What if I want a different experience?
  8. What are the best animals to get?


What’s the verdict? Are petting zoo parties a good idea? The answer is up to you. On the plus side, petting zoos can be an enjoyable experience and provide educational opportunities for children. On the negative side, many experts believe that petting zoo parties can be harmful to the children and animals involved. Most people will look at the positives but to make a good decision, need more information about the cons as well. Most people have organized petting zoo parties, but if you haven’t, it’s an amazing experience.

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