The Dallas Morning News reports that insurance companies have raised their rates for fairs and events that have petting zoos as a result of the increase in petting zoo-related E. coli infections amongst visitors. As a result, places such as the State Fair of Texas will be cancelling their Children’s Barnyard Petting Zoo.
None of the fair’s other animal exhibits, including the livestock barns and the pig races, will be affected.
In past years, Children’s Barnyard — which featured more than 20 types of animals including young alpacas, llamas and kangaroos — provided hand-sanitizing gel and displayed signs prominently asking visitors to wash their hands after touching the animals.
Daryl Real, the fair’s vice president for agricultural and livestock, said officials had planned to install more soap dispensers this year at the zoo and in the livestock area, but with the increased insurance cost of having a petting zoo, they opted to cancel that portion of the fair.
State Fair officials said they plan to find another insurance carrier and reopen the petting zoo next year.