The Brandon Times reports that since the E. coli outbreak earlier this year at the Florida Strawberry Festival, requests for Pony Party Plus have dried up.
Pony Party Plus, owned by Jennifer Borg, is a mobile petting zoo – complete with pony rides, goats, chicken, sheep, pigs and rabbits. The reptile portion of her business brings shows to children in the area featuring snakes, frogs, scorpions, alligators and tarantulas.
The decline in Borg’s bookings is similar to other petting farms and mobile zoos. It started after a scare in March, when several people contracted life-threatening kidney infections after visiting petting zoos at fairs across the state. Most tested positive for the E. coli bacteria, becoming ill after touching the animals and not washing their hands properly.
The business has lost about $7,000 since the outbreak, and Borg doesn’t know if things will improve any time soon. It costs between $600 and $800 a month just to feed the animals.